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US extends P100-m aid to boost food security

THE United States Agency for International Development has extended a P100-million assistance to the Philippines intended to boost food security in Marawi City and surrounding areas.

The USAID is partnering with the World Food Program to provide 1.8 million kilograms of rice—enough to feed 45,000 people for four months—to families displaced by the conflict.

During the ceremonial handover of rice to Philippine government officials on Wednesday, US.

Ambassador Sung Kim stressed his government remained a strong ally of the Philippines in supporting its program to rebuild the lives of Marawi City people.

“The US government continues to stand by the Filipino people as a friend, partner, and ally to support those affected by the Marawi conflict as they rebuild their lives,” Kim said.

The assistance, which will help ensure an adequate food supply for families affected by the Marawi conflict, brings the total US government contribution to the Marawi humanitarian response to nearly P1.2 billion ($22.9 million).

Ambassador Kim was joined by Undersecretary Emmanuel Leyco, Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, Spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi; and Mr. Stephen Gluning, Country Director of the World Food Program.

The US government, through USAID, has been a key partner with the Philippine government in the recovery, stabilization, and rehabilitation of Marawi City and surrounding areas.  USAID continues to work closely with the Philippine government and development partners to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance and promote long-term stability in Marawi.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced in October the Marawi City siege was over, exactly five months after fighting between government troops and ISIS-linked Maute Group started.

“After 154 days of siege in Marawi with Daesh-inspired Maute-ISIS group, after a week the commander-in-chief declared the liberation of Marawi City, we now announce the termination of combat operations in Marawi City,” Lorenzana told reporters.

“The Philippine forces, aided by its government and the massive support of the Filipino people, have nipped the budding infrastructure and defeated terrorism in the Philippines,” the defense chief said.

The combat operations were ended after terrorists tried to make their last stand inside the main battle area.

Government troops found 42 cadavers of suspected terrorists in two buildings and a mosque in the center of the clash.

“There was a firefight and they were finished,” Lorenzana said, adding all remaining hostages had been recovered the past few days.

ISIL fighters laid siege to Marawi in May, prompting months of heavy combat that prompted hundreds of thousands to flee and left more than 1,000 dead.

On May 23, 2017, government forces clashed with armed fighters from two ISIL-affiliated groups – Abu Sayyaf and the Maute. 

The siege was triggered when the military tried to arrest top ISIL leader Isnilon Hapilon.

This prompted attackers to fight back, declaring the city a new caliphate of ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, also known as ISIS.

They burned a Catholic church, the city jail and two schools before occupying the main streets and major bridges of the city. 

Churchgoers and residents were taken hostage and a police officer was beheaded.

On the evening of the attacks, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the entire island of Mindanao. Initially, Duterte predicted the battle would be over within weeks.

Top commanders Isnilon Hapilon and brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute were members of the local armed groups, Abu Sayyaf and the Maute. 

Both groups have previously been blamed for bombings, attacks against government forces and kidnappings in the Philippines.

The battle involved many foreign fighters, from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Yemen and Chechnya. 

There is evidence the groups also recruited many child soldiers, most from local schools in Marawi.

Topics: United States Agency for International Development , Philippines , Marawi City , World Food Program , Ambassador Sung Kim
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