EU, UN, Australia launch 2 projects for former MILF combatants

The European Union, the United Nations, and the Australian government launched on Wednesday two projects to help former combatants in six Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps re-engage into civilian life.

The projects will support Camp Bilal in Lanao provinces, Camp Bushra in Lanao del Sur, Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao, Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato/Maguindanao, and Camps Badre and Omar in Maguindanao.

According to the EU, a total of PHP301.51 million from the bloc, the UN, and Australia will be allocated for the programs.

The ALIAS-DC or the Access to Legal Identity and Social Services for Decommissioned Combatants will provide 31,000 former MILF combatants, their families, the Bangsamoro Islamic Women’s Brigade (BIWAB), and members of communities surrounding the camps with birth registration.

"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 said.

The non-government organization IDEALS will implement the project until 2023 with PHP62.41 million funding from the EU and PHP18.1 million from Australia.

The PROACTIVE or Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment, meanwhile, will work help create viable livelihoods in previously armed camps by supporting the formation of social enterprises, offering individual agricultural and non-agricultural livelihood training, and improving access to basic services and social infrastructure.

The project will also work on 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.

The project, co-funded by the EU for PHP221 million, will be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme.

“The EU is here to support the work of the Bangsamoro Transitional Government and the OPAPRU Office of Presidential Adviser of Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Office of Presidential Adviser of Peace, Reconciliation and Unity) to further consolidate the peace process," said EU Ambassador Luc Véron.

"The EU has been a staunch and long-standing supporter of the peace efforts in Mindanao: with the projects we are launching today, and since 2020, we have invested over 105 million euros in projects covering both development and capacity building for the transition. We are happy to be partnering with Australia and the UN on normalization, since enhancing the normalization 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," he added.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson AO said Australia has been a long-time supporter of the peace process in Mindanao.

"I’m glad that we are helping provide such foundational assistance to former combatants. 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. I hope these documents will help kick-start the process to transform these camps into peaceful communities," he said.

In his message, UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez, said: “Peace and development must walk hand-in-hand. Today we celebrate another milestone in this complex but rewarding journey. As the United Nation, we are proud of being part of this collective investment jointly with the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, OPAPRU and our long-standing development partners, Australia and the European Union."

Source: Philippines News Agency

Related posts