UNHCR and BARMM: Preparing for emergencies together

We may not be able to prevent disasters from happening, but with your help, we can make sure that the most vulnerable communities and local partners are empowered to prepare and respond when emergencies occur.

In Mindanao, communities are affected by recurrent displacement due to ongoing armed conflict, clan feuds, and natural disasters that perennially impact over a million people. Families who are forced to flee because of conflict become even more vulnerable with the occurrence of natural disasters, like the October 2019 earthquakes. Many are repeatedly displaced and have no regular access to basic social services, physical and legal protection, and natural disasters only put more lives at risk.

To ensure that vulnerable families are given the assistance and protection that they need, part of UNHCR’s work involves empowering the partners we work with in humanitarian response. In 2019, UNHCR Philippines conducted various capacity building workshops across Mindanao for a total of 711 participants, covering key topics like Emergency Preparedness. You have made this possible.

 

Empowering partners in emergency response

One of the key workshops held by UNHCR Philippines is the 3-day Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Emergency Preparedness and Response Workshop. Organized with the help of the UNHCR Regional Centre for Emergency Preparedness (eCentre), this was attended by representatives of the regional government and local government units of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao – areas that experience recurring disasters and conflict. Currently, BARMM hosts the biggest number of displaced persons in Mindanao at 60% of the total population.

As highlighted by e-Centre Coordinator Peter Kozelets, “Asia-Pacific is the home of 80% of the population that is forcibly displaced by natural disasters”. The Philippines being prone to calamities, this workshop is paramount in providing support to the BARMM key authorities in integrating protection into its emergency preparedness plan and response.

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One of the key workshops held by UNHCR Philippines is the 3-day Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Emergency Preparedness and Response Workshop.

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The workshop was attended by representatives of the regional government and local government units of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao – areas that experience recurring disasters and conflict.

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Shinji Kubo, UNHCR Country Representative in the Philippines, says that the workshop is about building upon the existing experience and expertise which have been accumulated over the years in this region that has been prone to natural and man-made disasters, which has affected the well-being of thousands of people in the past decades.

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Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) Minister of Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo welcomes participants and says that the region is simultaneously building the infrastructure to deal with issues on preparedness, response and rehabilitation.

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Mr Peter Kozelets, Coordinator of the e-Centre, says that coordination with the humanitarian system on the ground is key to make it more effective, to save as many lives of as possible and to protect the affected population.

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Participants shared and learned experiences from one another, including the unique challenges of each area. The goal was to strengthen networking, coordination, and understand the centrality of protection.

Through the workshop, participants shared and learned experiences from one another, including the unique challenges of each area. The goal was to strengthen networking, coordination, and understand the centrality of protection. Emergency response is not just about evacuation, search and rescue, and the delivery of material assistance. More importantly, there is a need to protect the affected population, especially the most vulnerable during emergencies: women, children, the elderly, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and persons with disabilities.

 

Empowering communities to prepare for emergencies

UNHCR Philippines also held several capacity building workshops at the barangay level, with the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils of South Upi (Maguindanao), Maasim (Sarangani), Pigcawayan (North Cotabato), Guindulugan (Maguindanao), and Palimbang (Sultan Kudarat).

Several quick impact projects were also implemented around Mindanao to ensure that even the most remote communities in Mindanao are prepared for disasters.

We may not be able to prevent disasters from happening, but with your help, we can make sure that the most vulnerable communities and local partners are empowered to prepare and respond when emergencies occur.

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Personal protective gear and rescue equipment were given to Brgy. Poblacion in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. An orientation on basic life support, as well as training on how to use the equipment were also conducted. With this quick impact project, the barangay is now equipped to augment the needs for emergency response in the municipality.

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Brgy. Lamion, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi received multi-purpose tents, solar lamps, rechargeable flashlights, and tarpaulins that will help them in diaster response and preparedness.

 

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UNHCR co-leads the Protection Cluster with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), both for conflict and natural disasters, and works with the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (LDRRMOs). It continues to strengthen its engagement with the government to seek avenues for cooperation, particularly relating to the protection of the most vulnerable forcibly displaced populations.