UN food agency launches campaign to bolster peace in Philippine island of Mindanao

UN food agency launches campaign to bolster peace in Philippine island of Mindanao

More than 2 million deprived people on the war-ravaged southern Philippines’ island of Mindanao are benefiting from a $27-million aid operation launched by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) this week in support of Government effort to end the long-standing conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The year-long operation in five of the region’s poorest provinces is “a tangible peace dividend,” WFP country coordinator Nileema Noble said. “Sixty per cent of the population of the targeted provinces will benefit directly.”

More than 170,000 school children are to receive take-home rations of rice, helping to reduce the high drop-out rate, under the project which is being carried out in cooperation with the Government and will provide food aid to families displaced by the violence, former combatants and poor women in a region where poverty, nutrition and education levels are far worse than anywhere else in the country.

WFP Regional Director for Asia Anthony Banbury underlined the critical importance of contributions from the international community to help in securing the peace process in Mindanao.

“The Government and people of the Philippines cannot take on this challenge alone – the contribution of those nations that are willing to support this process of peace and reconciliation must also be recognized,” he said.

Pledges amounting to $4.1 million have been made by the governments of Australia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden as well as by corporations including global financial services provider Citigroup and TNT, the logistics company.