Staying and delivering for the most vulnerable
Eight years after the Zamboanga siege, your committed support enables UNHCR to stay and deliver life-saving assistance and help the most vulnerable rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.
The quick impact project in Masepla Transitory Site will provide much-needed access to water and sanitation amid COVID-19, promote community empowerment, foster peaceful co-existence, and strengthen the resilience of the forcibly displaced. © UNHCR/Corazon Lagamayo
When she was just ten years old, Mikaela Jumala and her family were forced to flee for safety when armed conflict between state and non-state forces erupted in Zamboanga City. Their coastal barangay of Sta. Barbara was among those affected by the conflict, which lasted from 9 to 28 September 2013, and displaced approximately 119,714 individuals (23,794 families).
Eight years after the conflict, Mikaela and her family remain in Masepla Transitory Site. She is now a Grade 9 student and an active member of the community, serving as the vice-chairman of the barangay youth committee.
Mikaela Jumala, 18, was forced to flee for safety during the Zamboanga conflict in September 2013. Today, she lives in Masepla Transitory Site with her family, and is a youth leader for their barangay youth committee. © UNHCR/Jonathan Porras
In the time of COVID-19, the situation of the 130 families in Masepla transitory site was worsened by loss of livelihood, posing challenges to some of the families in accessing limited resources in the area. © UNHCR/Jonathan Porras
The lack of access to facilities has created risks to the health and safety of the displaced families who remain in Masepla transitory site. © UNHCR/Corazon Lagamayo
As a youth leader, she shared her sentiments about the challenges they face. In the time of COVID-19, their situation was worsened by loss of livelihood, posing challenges to some of the families in accessing limited resources in the area. With sanitation being a top concern, Mikaela mentioned that the lack of access to facilities has created risks to their health and safety. Not every house has a toilet, and this makes the surroundings unhygienic. Health care facilities are also difficult to access.
How your support protected the most vulnerable during COVID-19
With the help of donors like you, support from the Australian Government, in partnership with the Integrated Resource Development for Tri-People (IRDT), and in collaboration with the City Government of Zamboanga, UNHCR Philippines recently built communal latrines and a water pump for the residents of Masepla Transitory Site. This water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) facility will benefit Mikaela and 130 families in maintaining good health and sanitation practices, especially during this critical time.
The communal latrines and water pump built for the residents of Masepla transitory site will help 130 families in maintaining good health and sanitation practices, especially during this critical time. © UNHCR/Jonathan Porras
“This will affect the health of every family who is staying here,” said City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) Chief Ma Socorro Rojas during the handover, who also highlighted that multi-sectoral collaboration is critical in implementing a project like this as this. Evelyn Lakibul, the president of the Project Management Committee for this particular quick impact project (QIP), also expressed her gratitude, saying, “Masaya kami dahil merong naipagkaloob dito ang UNHCR at mga partner na mga latrines. Dati rati nahihirapan ang mga tao dito. Bilang lider, dapat lagi ko silang paalalahanin na lagi nilang sundin kung ano mang ikabubuti dito para maging long lasting ito. Maraming maraming salamat.” (We are very happy because of the latrines given by UNHCR and partners. Before, the community really had a hard time. As a leader, I will always remind everyone to follow the guidelines so that we can make this facility last for a long time. Thank you very much.)
Aside from providing access to water and sanitation during the pandemic, this project also aims to promote community empowerment, foster peaceful co-existence, and strengthen the resilience of the forcibly displaced.
Staying and delivering
It has been eight years since she was forced to flee from home, and despite the day-to-day challenges, Mikaela remains hopeful for the future. She takes her responsibility as a youth leader seriously, sharing that she hopes to influence the other young people in her community to do good and stay on the right path. When asked about her dreams for the future, she shares, “Gusto ko po maging nurse, gusto ko po makatulong sa pamilya ko masuklian ko yung paghihirap nila yung mga pagpapaaral nila sakin tsaka gusto ko po makatulong sa ibang tao, sa kabataan.” (I dream of becoming a nurse. I want to help my family, considering all their sacrifices in helping me complete my studies. I also want to help others, especially the youth.)
In the last eight years, much has been done to assist those displaced by the Zamboanga siege. With the help of donors and partners, UNHCR has conducted protection monitoring activities for those who are displaced, provided core relief items to complement the assistance of the city government and other humanitarian agencies, implemented quick impact projects like this WASH facility, conducted IDP profiling and consultation activities to ensure that no IDPs are left out of government support and interventions, and implemented capacity building initiatives to empower local partners and members of the community.
While most of those displaced from the conflict have already been able to return home, as of 9 September 2021, approximately 3,600 individuals (720 families) remain displaced and are still waiting for the completion of the permanent housing units under the Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Rehabilitation (Z3R). Of the total, 58 families are living in transitory sites, while 662 families are in home-based settings.
With the delays in the completion of the permanent houses, these forcibly displaced families are continuously facing recurring protection issues and great exposure to COVID-19. In July 2021, protection partners reported the increasing case of COVID-19 among the IDPs. City LGUs reported that there are some IDPs who have availed COVID-19 vaccinations. However, there is still a need to strengthen the campaign for COVID-19 vaccination as majority of the IDPs in the transitory sites still remain unvaccinated.
Your committed support makes it possible for UNHCR to stay and deliver for displaced people like Mikaela and her family – by scaling up water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions, supporting and advocating access to vaccines, protecting incomes and livelihoods, and helping the most vulnerable children and families in Mindanao rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.
Thank you for helping us stay and deliver for the most vulnerable.