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08 SEPTEMBER 2008
UN PRAISES RP GOVERNMENT'S HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS IN MINDANAO
MANILA -- The United Nations has reaffirmed its support of ongoing Philippine government efforts to end the conflict in Mindanao and provide humanitarian relief assistance to communities affected by the current hostilities in the region.
"The United Nations appreciates the continuous and proactive support of the Philippine Government to humanitarian efforts in Mindanao and understands the military's concern over the safety and security of humanitarian relief workers," the UN said in a statement issued in New York.
The UN was clarifying newspaper reports emanating from the Philippines which claimed that assistance to persons displaced by renewed clashes in Mindanao was hampered by a so-called "food blockade" in Lanao del Norte province instigated by military authorities.
The UN statement said that its local resident commission in the Philippines had reported that an isolated case of "food blockade" did occur while government troops were checking on assistance bound for evacuation centers in Mindanao.
There have been reports of anti-government rebels starving after weeks of hiding in the jungles eluding pursuing government troopers.
The incident was only one in a series of successful relief operations undertaken jointly by the Philippine government and the UN called "Action for Conflict Transformation for Peace."
The UN statement said that the UN Resident Commissioner had clarified the issue.
The UN "did not experience any difficulties or challenges in delivering food to the distribution centers. Dispatches of food support for displaced families have been unhampered amidst recent hostilities and increased security precautions being taken by UN staff and its cooperating partners."
The UN said it would continue to coordinate closely with the authorities at both the national and provincial levels in carrying out its humanitarian relief assistance, especially disaster coordinating councils and social welfare offices.
The news report from Koronadal City said that aid agencies in the area had accused the military of putting up food blockades.
But the newspaper story said that Philippine Brig. Gen. Jorge Segovia, acting chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) command center, denied the existence of food blockade.
Segovia was quoted as saying, "There was no food blockade. We want to
ensure the safety of anybody involved in the relief operations. In
fact, they can go through provided they have coordinated with the
Disaster Coordinating Councils (DCCs) so that everything will run
ELMER G. CATO Second Secretary & Press Officer Philippine Mission to the United Nations 556 Fifth Avenue, Fifth Floor New York, New York 10036 Tel. No. 212.764.1300 Extension 38
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