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COVID-19 Response in the Philippines: Delivering Critical Aid to the Forcibly Displaced

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Thanks to the support of donors, UNHCR Philippines together with government and other humanitarian partners reached 21,474 individuals with life-saving assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The most vulnerable forcibly displaced families in Mindanao continue to face the threat of conflict and the unpredictability of natural disasters. The latest Protection Cluster Displacement Dashboard reports that as of 30th June 2020, 351,647 individuals are displaced across Mindanao.

Delivering Critical Aid Amid COVID-19

UNHCR Philippines is working in partnership with government and other humanitarian organisations to ensure that life-saving aid and services remain intact, despite the challenges in movement due to stricter public health measures, enforced community lockdowns and government precautions in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Together, we have been able to reach 21,474 individuals in the second quarter of this year. A total of 26,652 personal protective equipment were distributed, along with 4,452 mosquito nets, 4,148 solar lamps, 2,676 plastic sheets, 1,247 blankets, 781 hygiene kits, and 86 sleeping mats.

Strengthened Coordination and Capacity Building Among Protection Actors

Amid the pandemic, the well-being of UNHCR’s persons of concern has been at the centre of its COVID-19 prevention and response efforts. Physical distancing has required UNHCR to draw on its adaptive capabilities, leverage diverse channels and modalities of communication, and rapidly scale up practices to ensure that staff, partners and communities can continue to deliver during this exceptionally challenging time.

UNHCR and humanitarian actors are continuously working closely with the key government agencies to ensure timely prevention and response to protection issues in BARMM and non-BARMM areas and facilitate timely information-sharing with the IDP community on health measures in response to COVID-19.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MMSD) and the regional offices of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Mindanao, the creation of Mindanao Virtual Protection Coordination Platform (MVPCP) strengthened the coordination among relevant protection actors in Mindanao such as Government agencies, and relevant local government units, NGOs and CSOs, and UN agencies.

UNHCR also deployed Protection and Information Management experts to strengthen BARMM’s capacity in monitoring, reporting, and addressing protection issues and to establish mechanisms to manage potential protection risks for IDPs. Despite the challenges in mobility, UNHCR was able to continue its community-based protection monitoring and profiling through partners, and innovated data gathering through virtual key informant interviews. These activities provided government authorities information on the protection situation in the marginalized parts of their areas of responsibility.

While responding to the COVID-19 crisis is a priority, ensuring the delivery of regular programmes to provide critical protection and life-saving support to UNHCR’s persons of concern in Mindanao continues.