EU announces more aid for displaced in Philippines

December 21st, 2008 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Dec 21 (DPA) The European Union (EU) Sunday announced an additional 2.5-million-euro (about $3 million) assistance to thousands of civilians displaced by hostilities in southern Philippines.The new funding is in addition to seven million euros approved in October for short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term rehabilitation aid in the southern region of Mindanao.

Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of the delegation of the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, in the Philippines, said the additional aid would ensure continued care for the displaced.

“The situation remains very serious with some 310,000 people still displaced and with almost 60,000 of those taking shelter in evacuation centres, which are by no means adequate for anything more than short-term relief,” he said.

“Many of the IDPs (internally displaced persons) have been in evacuation centres for five months now, with little prospect of being able to return to their homes while the risk of conflict remains,” he added.

The civilians were displaced by fighting between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim separatist rebel group, and the military since August.

The hostilities worsened when MILF rebels launched a series of attacks to protest a Supreme Court decision to stop the signing of a key agreement that would have expanded an autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao.

More than 200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in those attacks and subsequent fighting. More than 500,000 people were also displaced at the height of the fighting.

The EU reiterated its call for the Philippine government and the MILF to resume stalled peace talks to prevent more violence in Mindanao.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had dissolved the government’s peace negotiating panel with the MILF due to the fighting in August.

Earlier in the month, Arroyo appointed a new chief negotiator with the MILF in what could be the first step towards resuming the peace talks with the rebel group.

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