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DSWD reveals efforts on protection, assistance to IDPs

In response to negative reports received by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Regional Office IX in Zamboanga City gave clarifications regarding the plight of Zamboanga City Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

On cases of Prostitution

DSWD 9 Regional Director Zenaida Arevalo said that the Protection Cluster which was organized as early as September has been monitoring this issue. She said that when the cluster learned of these prostitution incidence, several efforts were done with the aim of bringing an end to this social problem and preventing further damage to the social arena. Efforts include identification of Barangay tanods for all 4 Zones in the Joaquin Enriquez Sports Complex who were organized and trained to monitor such cases. Coordination with the Philippine National Police has also been carried out to strengthen security on entrance and exit points at the JFESC during night time while coordination with TESDA and DOLE to provide skills training and cash-for-work to ensure that these women are provided with income-generating ventures.

“We cannot confirm that prostitution is really happening at the JFESC, as we neither the police have caught anyone engaging in such demeanor, however, we are not setting aside these reports and coordinated with the City Health Office. In initial interviews done by our social workers, we found out that these women are already sex workers when they were displaced by the Zamboanga crisis.” Director Arevalo said.

The Director further revealed that regular meetings are being done by the five (5) social workers assigned to these women for the rigid case management.

Past emergency response

DSWD reiterates that the situation in Zamboanga is already in the rehabilitation and recovery stage and post emergency response. This indicates that provision of emergency needs has ended which is usually good for only 2-4 weeks after a disaster.

“We have provided food supplies up to December last year with some of our humanitarian partners affording our IDPs with food supplies until March of this year. However, this is already way past the emergency phase and rehabilitation and recovery should already be observed for our IDPs to start things on their own”. The director said.

Transition homes

The DSWD Field Office IX said that there is no truth to the claims of some malicious reporters that ‘no transition sites have been prepared nor are there decent jobs made available’. Per records, todate there are 5 transitory sites with more being developed. About 6,700 individuals have already transferred to these areas, after the government have initiated the immediate decongestion of the JFESC and clearing of the Cawa-cawa boulevard. Humanitarian partners like the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Habitat for Humanity and the AFP 52nd Engineering Brigade has been helping in the construction of the bunkhouses and temporary shelters .

The Sustainable Livelihood Program unit (SLP) of the department in partnership with the Livelihood cluster members continually provide earning opportunities like the Food for work and Cash for Work programs. The project development workers have already started assessing individuals and groups for program requirements.###

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