Cotabato City—The US government is providing a fresh aid package of P201 million ($4 million) to support vulnerable sectors of the Mindanao population during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Embassy in Manila said.
This developed following a virtual meeting on June 2 between US Ambassador Sung Kim with officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao officials, led by Chief Minister Ahod Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who also chairs the BARMM Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.
The United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) “will also continue to provide vital water supply in transitory sites in Lanao del Sur for families displaced by the Marawi Siege and in North Cotabato for earthquake-affected communities,” said a statement released Friday by the US Embassy in Manila.
Ambassador Kin reiterated US commitment to a continuing working partnership with the Philippines to address COVID-19 in the region, a US Embassy statement said.
Ebrahim has thanked the US ambassador for “upholding his country’s commitment to the Bangsamoro, particularly during this period of crisis when we are all fighting an enemy that is unseen through the naked eyes.”
Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Bombit Alonto Adiong gladly received the good news, in times, he said, when the Provincial Capitol would have to continue reaching out to village populace for aid.
Both Moro leaders have acknowledged that local partner-organizations of the USAID were in-charge of implementing programs funded with the new aid package.
The Embassy statement said the meeting “provided an opportunity for BARMM leadership to discuss challenges and present its COVID-19 contingency plan, while Ambassador Kim and USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy provided updates on US COVID-19 assistance.”
The new assistance package brings the total amount of US pandemic assistance to the Philippines to over P978 million ($19.5 million), the statement said.
“In these trying times, I am inspired by the resilience and courage of the Filipino people,” said Ambassador Kim. “The United States and the Philippines have met and overcome many challenges together, and I am confident that working together, we will overcome this challenge as well.”
With the additional $4 million in humanitarian assistance, USAID will help protect vulnerable populations - those displaced by conflict and the recent earthquakes in Mindanao - from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
USAID and its local partner organizations will work with local governments, local health authorities, and communities so that vulnerable populations have access to the most accurate and up-to-date health messages, the statement said.
Local partner organizations of the USAID will help reach out to over 100,000 persons with distributions of essential hygiene supplies, handwashing stations, hygiene promotion to reduce transmission risks level, and help communities reopen, it added.
The Embassy statement said the United States has provided more than P228 billion ($4.5 billion) in development assistance programs to the Philippines over the past 20 years, including over P29 billion ($582 million) in health assistance packages.
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