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Marawi gets more aid despite rebuild delay

/ 05:38 AM July 19, 2019

STREET PATROL Soldiers patrol the streets near the heavily damaged Bato Ali Mosque in Marawi City after the military defeated Islamic State-linked groups that laid siege to the Lanao del Sur capital in 2017. —RICHEL V. UMEL

Despite the delay in rebuilding Marawi, the United States and Australia have extended more aid to the thousands of individuals displaced by the bloody military campaign in 2017 to retake the city from pro-Islamic State terrorists.

The funding will be for shelter, water and sanitation services, protection of women and children from violence, counseling, provision of birth certificates and livelihood support.

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The additional Australian aid came after President Duterte denounced the countries that voted or cosponsored a first-ever United Nations Human Rights Council resolution ordering a review of the country’s war on drugs amid reports of extrajudicial killings and other abuses.

Australia voted yes to the resolution that was narrowly passed by a vote of 18-14 with 15 abstentions.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has said the Philippines would not allow any UN investigation and warned of “far-reaching consequences” to the countries that supported the resolution.

The US government announced on Thursday an additional P234 million ($4.5 million) aid package, bringing its total assistance so far to the Marawi recovery efforts to P3.4 billion ($63.6 million).

Australia gave an additional P140 million (AUD 3.5 million) in livelihood aid for about 6,500 families from Marawi.

This brought to P1.2 billion (AUD 30 million) Australia’s total assistance so far to efforts to rebuild the ruined city in Lanao del Sur province.

The US Embassy said the extra funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) would help some 50,000 displaced residents in Marawi and 9,000 in Maguindanao.

Safe spaces for women

The latest assistance will provide temporary shelters to 2,600 people, aside from the nearly 33,000 people who had already received help.

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The USAID will also expand water and sanitation services, and improve safe spaces to protect women and children from exploitation and violence.

In recent months, Washington has provided livelihood support to nearly 7,500 displaced households, daily water delivery to more than 6,000 internally displaced persons, and hygiene kits and education for more than 30,000, according to the US Embassy.

It has helped improve conditions in evacuation centers and host communities of displaced Marawi residents since the early stages of the conflict, the embassy said.

“The US government remains committed to supporting the Philippine government in helping restore normalcy in the lives of the Filipinos affected by the Marawi conflict,” US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said.

Kim said the new assistance reflected the strong bond between the United States and the Philippines as friends, partners and allies.

Canberra commitment

Australian Ambassador to Manila Steve Robinson said Canberra was committed to help in the recovery and reconstruction of Marawi.

“We will continue to support the Philippine government and the people of Marawi as they work to rebuild their lives and their city,” Robinson said on Tuesday.

The Australian Embassy said the latest funding would benefit 6,500 displaced families in Marawi and the municipalities of Butig, Ditsaan-Ramain, Lumbayanague, Marantao, Masiu and Piagapo in Lanao del Sur province, and Iligan City and in the municipality of Munai in Lanao del Norte province.

The project will provide the families with counseling, help them get birth certificates and other proofs of identity that may have been destroyed during the military campaign, and with the means to start small businesses, such as tricycles, sewing machines and refrigerators.

Robinson signed a memorandum of partnership between the Australian Embassy and the Community and Family Services International, which will implement the project.

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TAGS: Australia, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Marawi, pro-Islamic State terrorists, United States
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