Manila, Philippines – The European Union on Thursday announced that it will be providing humanitarian assistance worth €200 million, or at least P12 billion, to victims of violence in Mindanao.
The aid aims to provide life-saving assistance to those who were affected by conflicts in the southern region of the country, the EU delegation to the Philippines said in a statement.
“Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes due to continued conflict in the Mindanao region. They left everything behind and are struggling to sustain their day-to-day lives,” EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said.
Stylianides stressed that the latest assistance underscores the regional bloc’s solidarity with the Philippines.
At least 50,000 displaced since July
The EU noted that over 50,000 people have been displaced in Mindanao since July due to the fighting between government forces and armed rebels.
Humanitarian needs remain high in the region as displaced people’s access to basic services have been hampered and their livelihoods have been disrupted.
Latest data show that at least 500,000 in Mindanao are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 270,000 people and 100,000 out-of-school children.
“The EU funding, channelled through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), will help address the most pressing needs of the affected populations, both displaced families and members of host communities,” the EU delegation to the Philippines said in a statement.
This assistance would focus on providing crucial support such as food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene assistance, emergency education and increased protection of impacted communities.
“The Mindanao conflict has been classified by the European Commission’s department for Humanitarian Aid as a ‘forgotten crisis’ due to insufficient media coverage and support from the international community, although the humanitarian needs in the region remain extremely high,” the EU said.
Previous EU aid rejected
In January, the Philippine government rejected trade assistance worth at least P382 million following the European Parliament’s call for an investigation into extrajudicial executions linked to Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the assistance offered by the EU was rejected due to sovereignty issues.
EU Ambassador Franz Jessen, however, said that they have “not closed any doors” on providing aid to the Philippines.
“We expect, at the end of the day, to continue much of our development assistance,” Jessen said in January.