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Australia extends assistance to Covid-vulnerable families

THE Commonwealth of Australia is providing additional support through its partnership with Community and Family Services International (CFSI) for a pandemic response and recovery initiative targeting individuals displaced by the Marawi City armed conflict, along with locally stranded individuals affected by the health crisis.

The P106-million (about AU$2.99 million) contribution from the Australian government for the Marawi Covid-19 Recovery Project (MCRP) will help at least 4,000 families, or around 20,000 persons, reactivate lost livelihoods and recover from the impact of three major shocks: armed conflict, protracted displacement, and the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) contagion.

“Australia has been a strong supporter of development, peace and stability in the southern Philippines for over 20 years,” said Ambassador Steven J. Robinson AO.

“Our commitment to the people and the recovery of Marawi [City] is steadfast; this new project will assist the most vulnerable people in Mindanao who have been severely affected by prolonged displacement and by the pandemic’s socioeconomic impacts.”

Under its Partnerships for Recovery program, Australia has redirected its development cooperation to reinforce the Philippine response to the pandemic. The envoy noted, “Our partnership with CFSI will support families recover from the impacts of [the contagion] and help foster inclusive and cohesive communities in the spirit of mateship and bayanihan.”

The MCRP is an expansion of the previous Australia-CFSI partnership that provided livelihood support for those displaced by the Marawi City conflict. The project will support the recovery of livelihoods that have been directly affected by the pandemic. It will also help facilitate birth registration and provide community rights awareness to prevent and address gender-based violence.

“Through this project, we will contribute to improving the conditions for peace and stability in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao,” said CFSI Executive Director Steven Muncy.

The MCRP will be implemented by CFSI over 30 months from January 2021 through June 2023 in Marawi City and six other municipalities in Lanao del Sur province, in close partnerships with the local government.

Task Force Bangon Marawi Field Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr. and Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra welcomed the new assistance from the commonwealth. The latter affirmed: “This project, which builds on previous partnerships between the government, Australia and CFSI, will provide critical support to vulnerable families and help them recover from the multiple challenges of displacement…exacerbated by the pandemic.”

“This will be a big help,” said Gandamra. “Because of the pandemic, many people lost their jobs, and we are hopeful that this project will help more families to recover their livelihoods.”

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