Oxfam Philippines on World Refugee Day joined other non-government organizations in calling for the immediate end of violence and hostilities in the Bangsamoro region, especially in Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao and Tawi-tawi, where armed conflicts are happening
“More than 15,000 families have lost their homes and livelihoods in armed conflict areas in the Bangsamoro region in recent months. While most people are asked to stay at home to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, some were forced to flee their homes to save their lives,” the organization said in a statement.
It pointed out that Filipinos should not be forced to choose between violence and exposure to the virus.
Oxfam’s statement is in support of a joint statement of civil society organizations and humanitarian agencies for the Bangsamoro Peace and Security Summit for Sustainable Local Development on May 24 calling for the suspension of military action of both government forces and non-state armed groups.
The organization said the cessation of hostilities would be a good opportunity to address the underlying causes of violence in the region.
Among the steps suggested by the group is the promotion of peace dialogues among parties involves in armed conflict.
“We show our utmost support to the call for just and lasting peace and for genuine people’s participation in conflict resolution and management in the Bangsamoro region,” Oxfam said.
It also suggested the linking of peace-building efforts of various organizations to find solutions to address root causes of poverty and violence in the area.
“We also support the call for government initiatives that will contribute to the economic growth and long-term development of armed conflict areas. We need to build back confidence alongside peace-building if we want to address the underlying causes of the armed conflict,” Oxfam Philippines said.
Oxfam Philippines and partners implemented cash transfer programs using digital financial services to improve the welfare of affected communities, hasten the delivery of social services, and boost local economies.
It also emphasized the need to involve the most affected people, especially women and girls, in decision-making.
Oxfam and its fellow civil society groups, in partnership with the local government units, have been providing life-saving support to families displaced by the armed conflict with food, water, sleeping materials, hygiene kits, and psychological first aid.
Besides losing or having their homes damaged, tens of thousands of Filipinos in the Bangsamoro region are now facing food insecurity, poor sanitation, lack of livelihood and access to clean water and medical services.
Through Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Conflict-Affected Populations in Mindanao (REACH) interventions, Oxfam and partner organizations Community Organizers Multiversity, United Youth of the Philippines-Women, and IDEALS Inc. funded by the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) were able to deliver in-kind food assistance to almost 19,000 individuals or 3,767 internally displaced families in various municipalities in Maguindanao.
As part of the Unilever Hygiene Behavior Change Coalition (HBCC) Project, Oxfam Philippines was also able to directly reach 37,100 individuals in Eastern Visayas and Maguindanao through the installation of hand washing station in communities and the promotion of good hygiene and health behavior, as well as improvement of gender norms.
The groups were also able to provide equipment and facilities for water for drinking and domestic use in evacuation areas and affected communities. The construction of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities also provided work for internally displaced individuals. Besides hand pumps for water wells and gravity flow water points, Oxfam and its partners were able to construct cubicles of sex-disaggregated latrines, hand washing stations and laundry facilities. In addition to hygiene and water kits, affected residents also received onsite health services and legal assistance. \\
Kristine Sabillo Guerrero | Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing