Identity, livelihood projects for MILF camps transformation get EU, UN, Australia support 

GOVERNMENT representatives visit Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao in this July 2019 photo. — OPAPRU

TWO PROJECTS funded by the European Union (EU), United Nations, and Australia were launched Wednesday in support of the ongoing transformation of six camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). 

“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,” said EU Ambassador Luc Véron in a statement. 

The MILF signed a peace deal with the Philippine government in 2014, paving the way for the establishment in 2019 of a new Bangsamoro autonomous region in the southern island of Mindanao.   

Part of the region’s transition process is the social and economic development of MILF camps as former armed fighters of the group are decommissioned.  

The first program, the Access to Legal Identity and Social Services for Decommissioned Combatants (ALIAS DC), will provide 31,000 MILF former combatants, their families, the Bangsamoro Islamic Women’s Brigade, and their communities with legal identities through birth certificates so that they can re-engage into civilian life.   

This will give them mobility rights and access to basic services and social protection. 

The EU will provide funding of about P62.41 million and Australia at P18.1 million. 

“I’m glad that we are helping provide such foundational assistance to former combatants,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson said in the same statement.  

“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 added.  

LIVELIHOOD
The second project, co-funded by the EU for P221 million, is called the Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE). 

The project’s implementation includes supporting the formation of social enterprises, offering agricultural and non-agricultural livelihood training, providing assistance packages, and improving access to basic services and social infrastructure.  

PROACTIVE aims to transform conflict areas by enhancing the capacities and participation of stakeholders, creating a culture of peace in the community. 

“Peace and development must walk hand-in-hand,” said UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez. “Today we celebrate another milestone in this complex but rewarding journey.” 

“As the United Nations, we are proud of being part of this collective investment jointly with the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, OPAPRU (Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity), and our long-standing development partners, Australia and the European Union,” he added. 

MISEREOR, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, and The Asia Foundation headquartered in the United States are also supporting the projects.  

The two programs will be implemented in camps Bilal, Bushra, Rajamuda, Abubakar, Badre, and Omar, which are located across the Lanao, Maguindanao, and North Cotabato provinces. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan 

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