US offers aid to dislocated Zamboanga residentsBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The United States has allocated P26.4 million ($600,000) to aid residents in Zamboanga City displaced by the standoff between government forces and armed fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front.
The US Embassy in Manila said the assistance, to be coursed through the US Agency for International Development, was in response to the urgent needs of some 14,000 Zamboanga residents displaced by the security crisis.
“The United States has always been there for the Philippines in times of need, and we continue that tradition today for those suffering in Zamboanga,” US Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas Jr. said in a statement.
USAID and its local partner, Growth With Equity in Mindanao (GEM), will use the fund to distribute bottled of water, 1,500 sleeping mats and some 10,000 blankets, personal hygiene items and canned goods.
The amount will also fund the construction of 40 portable toilets and the dispatch of four 500-gallon water tanks for sanitation needs of the displaced.
The items will be delivered in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, with the assistance of the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines stationed in Zamboanga.
The military earlier said the US military unit, established to assist the AFP in anti-terror operations, is strictly prohibited from being involved in the ongoing security operations.
“While we continue to pray for calm to prevail and for a peaceful and speedy resolution to this crisis, we are proud to be able to work beside our Philippine colleagues in time of need,” said the Embassy.