In flood-hit Philippines, aid offers a glimmer of hope
by Arjun Jain, for the UNHCR, abs-cbnnews.com
December 29, 2011
MANDULOG, Philippines – After surviving decades of conflict, Imelda Anugud never expected it would be the wrath of nature that finally destroyed her home.
“We were asleep when the river began to flood our home around midnight,” said the 43-year-old mother of three girls, recalling how, just over a week ago, tropical storm Washi hit the village she has always called home.
“We left everything, crossed the river and ran for higher ground,” the shaken woman said. “Within two hours, our home and the bridge we had crossed to get to safety were washed away.”
On Wednesday, the first glimmer of recovery arrived when United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) became the first aid agency to deliver relief supplies to her mountain village east of Iligan city in the Philippines’ southern Mindanao island.
This is not the first time residents of this largely Moro (Muslim) community have been displaced. In 2010, the most recent chapter in the long-running conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government sent them packing. Just over a month ago, a family feud, known here as a rido, which can be epic and deadly, forced them to flee their village.
The UN refugee agency began working with communities affected by the Mindanao conflict in May 2010. Shortly after tropical storm Washi hit, it joined the UN response to support government relief efforts, as the lead agency for the protection cluster. UNHCR decided to target its first emergency assistance to communities that have suffered a double whammy – weakened by years of conflict and now hit by floods.
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