Almost two months after the Zamboanga armed conflict, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has provided a total of P189.5 million worth of relief assistance to the evacuees.

Around P120 million of the said assistance was in the form of cooked meals which DSWD provided to all evacuees at the height of the Zamboanga armed conflict.  The total number of cooked meals provided until October 16 totaled to 2,065,236 food packs.

With the rehabilitation phase underway, DSWD started distributing raw relief goods to the evacuees starting October 17.  The relief packs, distributed every other day, consist of three kilos of rice, three canned sardines, three cans of corned beef, sachets of 3-in-1 coffee and five packs of noodles.

As of October 26, the Department has provided a total of 221,381 family food packs to the affected families which amounted to P55,347,750.

“Pabaon” packs were also provided to each family who returned to their homes.  To date, around 1,000 families were given “pabaon” packs which consist nine kilos of rice, 15 cans of sardines, 10 cans of corned beef, 20 pieces of noodles, and 20 pieces of 3-in-1 coffee.

Aside for the food packs, some P5.1 million of non-food items such as blankets, plastic mats, hygiene kits, kitchen utensils, and mosquito nets, among others were also provided.

As part of the rehabilitation phase, DSWD is now constructing bunkhouses as temporary shelters of the evacuees in partnership with the local government unit of Zamboanga, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Engineering Brigade and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Presently, construction for 62 bunkhouses which will house 702 families is underway, priority of which are the fire victims. The AFP Engineering Brigade is now constructing 21 bunkhouses inside the JFE Sports Complex, while an additional 20 bunkhouses shall be constructed with the IOM.

In partnership with the Habitat for Humanity, 20 more bunkhouses will be constructed at Brgy. Taluksangay intended for 210 families.  Priority families for the said bunkhouses are the Badjao evacuees.

Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that the government is “fast-tracking the construction of bunkhouses.”

Despite the immediacy, however, she ensured that the bunkhouses are built in accordance to the standards set by the agencies.

Social protection measures are also being strengthened by the Department in collaboration with partner agencies.

Recently, the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) held a training for the camp managers of the different evacuation centers in handling cases of gender based violence.  The Community and Family Services International (CFSI) shared some strategies in handling cases of children separated from their families in times of disaster.

A referral system in handling cases on gender-based violence was also established in the evacuation centers as an additional measure to protect the women and children evacuees.

To date, 22 evacuation centers remain open, which caters to the welfare and protection of 9,338 families or 41,863 individuals.   In coordination with the city government, DSWD also provides food packs to 10,678 affected families staying with their friends or relatives.###