ICRC says Zambo recovery ‘slow’ 2 years after fighting
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Life is “buzzing” again in the city, two years after fighting between government and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces displaced some 120,000 people, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), but the humanitarian agency lamented that the recovery of 17,000 of them was “progressing slowly.”
Marcel Goyeneche, head of the ICRC office here, said the 17,000 were still staying in 12 “transition” sites, or dwellings before their final resettlement. He described the conditions there as slightly better than the evacuation centers that initially hosted them despite the lack of access to clean water, sanitation and livelihood opportunities.
“Civilians unfortunately bear the heaviest consequences of conflict, and the situation in Zamboanga was no exception,” Goyeneche said in a statement on Monday.
With the “slow pace of the response and the recovery,” he said the ICRC had to extend its operations several times to a total of 26 months.
Among the services the international aid group has so far provided to the evacuees were the daily delivery of 36,000 liters of water to four transition sites from February to August this year—in Masepla 1, 2 and 3 and in Rio Hondo—and the installation of a 10,000-liter storage facility in Lupa-lupa.
The ICRC said it also helped lay a permanent water system in Taluksangay in September, benefiting 4,000 people.
Four hand pumps will be installed in Masepla 3, where around 7,700 people have taken shelter. The project is expected to be completed this month.
Moreover, rainwater drainage will improve the road access to Masepla 1, the ICRC reported.
Agency personnel have conducted informative sessions to some 13,300 people on the importance of hygiene in the communities, it said.
The ICRC will be wrapping up its humanitarian activities by January next year. Goyeneche, however, said the agency “will pursue a dialogue with authorities to find safe and dignified solutions for the displaced.”
“Their move to permanent shelters must also be addressed quite soon,” the official said.
For carpenter Jun Albani, the lack of a permanent shelter for his family has been a persistent problem.
“We are entering the third year now but all we got are forgotten promises.
My cousin has fled when she was still pregnant. My nephew walks now and still we don’t have a permanent roof to move in, Albani said in Filipino.
Couple Luciano and Aurora Timola said they were wondering when the permanent shelters for other families will be finished.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson told the Inquirer during a visit here on Tuesday that there was indeed a delay in the housing project for the victims of the siege.
“We have to acquire the land (where permanent shelters will be built), we (also) have to put roads, bridges and support facilities (water, light and sanitation),” Singson said.
2,000 out of 6,000 houses
The National Housing Authority (NHA) Zamboanga District is targeting to complete over 6,000 permanent housing but Al Kwarizmi Indanan, NHA director, said they had so far completed 2,000 units.
Singson said he was optimistic that the construction of the permanent shelters and the amenities would be completed by March 2016.
The government, he said, has already spent a little over P4 billion for the Z3R (Zamboanga City’s Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction). With a report from Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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