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‘Lumad’ evacuees now home, face challenge of restarting lives

/ 12:04 AM October 26, 2016

ILIGAN CITY—It will take about six months for the lives of lumad (indigenous peoples) evacuees, who recently went home to their communities in Surigao del Sur province, to return to normal, a humanitarian agency said

Last month, about 4,700 people—mostly belonging to indigenous families—returned to their hometowns of Tago, Marihatag, San Miguel, Lianga and San Agustin after evacuating last year following the killing of three civilians by paramilitary forces.

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The families spent about a year in the provincial sports complex in Tandag City.

“The main challenge for these returning communities will be how they can restart their lives. It will take them at least six months to start rebuilding. With ample support, they will be able to recover faster,” Olav Sinsuat, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Butuan City, said.

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For about a week starting Oct. 13, ICRC, with the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chapter in Surigao del Sur, distributed aid to the returning families.

ICRC, in a news release, quoted Tago town resident Demetrio Bada as saying that when they returned home, their livestock and crops were all gone.

“Weeds and grass covered our fields. We will have to replant and revive our farms so we can provide for our families,” Bada said.

To help the returning evacuees cope, ICRC said it provided each family with half-month food rations consisting of 25 kilograms of rice, 12 cans of sardines, two liters of cooking oil, a liter of soy sauce, a kilogram of sugar, half a kilogram of salt, and hygiene items.

Each family also received seeds of string beans, eggplant, squash, bokchoy (pechay), and bitter gourd (ampalaya) for them to grow vegetables in their backyards for their consumption.

Between September 2015 and February 2016, ICRC and PRC augmented the aid provided by the government to more than 3,200 displaced people in Surigao del Sur through distribution of food, household, and medical items; provision of potable water; and construction of toilets in the evacuation center.

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TAGS: evacuee, Indigenous people, lumad, Surigao del Sur
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