EU, UN, Australia launch 2 projects for former MILF combatants, families | Global News
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EU, UN, Australia launch 2 projects for former MILF combatants, families

/ 01:53 PM June 15, 2022
Moro Islamic Liberation Front . INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Moro Islamic Liberation Front . INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines  — The United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and Australia launched on Wednesday two projects aimed at transforming six Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps into community development centers, and helping former combatants and their families secure legal identities.

The projects will receive a total of P301.51 million from the EU and Australia, the EU Delegation to the Philippines said in a statement.

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“The two initiatives will support Camp Bilal (Lanao provinces), Camp Bushra (Lanao del Sur), Camp Abubakar (Maguindanao), Camp Rajamuda (North Cotabato/Maguindanao), Camp Badre (Maguindanao), and Camp Omar (Maguindanao),” the EU delegation said.

One of the projects, dubbed as the Access to Legal Identity and Social Services for Decommissioned Combatants (ALIAS-DC), seeks to support decommissioned combatants as “they re-engage into civilian life by providing them with legal identities.”

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The project will provide birth registration to 31,000 MILF former combatants, their families, as well as members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Women’s Brigade (BIWAB) and communities surrounding MILF camps from marginalized sectors such as internally displaced persons and indigenous people.

“Legal identity means that they can hold their own certificates of live births, it also means that former MILF combatants and their families are able to cross checkpoints freely and are able to access basic services and social protection,” the EU delegation said.

“After decades of conflict, obtaining a legal identity through birth certificates is a first step for former combatants in their re-engagement into civilian life. Access to the peace dividends also involves re-creating viable livelihoods in previously armed camps. To achieve these goals of normalization requires strong partnerships between all stakeholders,” it added.

The non-governmental organization Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) will “be carrying this initiative forward” to 2023, it added.

THe EU will be providing P62.42 million worth of funding for the project while P18.1 million will come from Australia.

Another project launched by the EU, Australia and the UN is the Program on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE), which will be co-funded by the EU for P221 million.

The project “will work with commanders to create viable livelihoods in previously armed camps by supporting the formation of social enterprises, offering individual agricultural and non-agricultural livelihood trainings and assistance packages, and improving access to basic services and social infrastructure,” the EU delegation said.

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“The project will also work on transforming conflict and creating a culture of peace by enhancing the capacities and participation of local stakeholders—including women, youth, and faith-based leaders in community development and peacebuilding,” it added.

The project will be implemented by the UN Development Program.

According to EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron, the regional bloc has been a “staunch and long standing supporter of the peace efforts in Mindanao.”

“We are happy to be partnering with Australia and the UN on normalisation, since enhancing the normalisation track -allowing for all the people engaged in the conflict to lead peaceful and productive lives without leaving anyone behind–is crucial to build lasting peace,” Veron added.

For his part, Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson expressed hopes that the projects, particularly the ALIAS-DC, “will help kick-start the process to transform these camps into peaceful communities.”

“Identity documents are something that many of us take for granted, but if you lack these you can find yourself locked out of education, health, work, and wider opportunities to participate in society,” Robinson said.
Meanwhile, UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez stressed the need for peace and development to “walk hand-in-hand.”

“Today we celebrate another milestone in this complex but rewarding journey,” he said.

RELATED STORY:

Multidonor trust fund set up to develop former MILF camps in Bangsamoro

Peace taking more time in Bangsamoro – third party observers

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TAGS: Australia, European Union, MILF, United Nations
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