MANILA: The European Union (EU) has granted close to six million euros (around $8 million) as livelihood assistance to 300,000 refugees a week after the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed an historic document aimed at bringing lasting peace to troubled Mindanao.
Guy Ledoux, the EU ambassador to the Philippines, pointed out the funding support would directly address the problem of pervasive poverty in Mindanao’s poorest areas as he stressed: “As a major development partner in poverty alleviation in Mindanao since 1990, the grant is a strong reaffirmation of the European Union’s support to the development of Mindanao and this will no doubt continue in the light of the recent peace framework agreement.”
Ledoux added the grant is on top of the $10 million funding assistance he announced in July for the Mindanao peace process.
As envisioned, the grant would fund livelihood projects to be implemented by World Food Programme (WFP) in co-ordination with government agencies particularly the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Expected to benefit from the grant are 50,000 families or 300,000 individuals displaced from decades-long war and violence in strife-torn Mindanao.
At the core of the programme is the establishment of small-scale granaries as well as cash-for-work activities especially for agricultural co-operatives, farmers and fishermen.
The project also aims to provide beneficiaries with production, post-harvest and value chain support.
In addition, projects would be undertaken for interior upland communities such as watershed management, reforestation and agro-forestry to help ensure a better living environment for the displaced families.
Government and MILF leaders welcomed the EU grant, saying this would go a long way in helping achieve lasting peace in Mindanao through a framework agreement signed in Malacanang Palace on Oct.15.