MANILA, Philippines-To securely address the needs of displaced families brought about by the on-going armed conflict between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to send additional food and non-food supplies to the city.

Three DSWD field offices provided augmentation assistance to Region IX.

The DSWD -CARAGA sent yesterday P1.9 million worth of relief supplies composed of 3,000 family food packs, 490 blankets, and 1 unit big tent.

Likewise, DSWD- X provided 2,000 family food packs, 2,000 hygiene kits, 100 sacks of rice, 20 pcs of tarpaulin, 20 cases of sardines, 20 cases of corned beef, and 100 boxes of coffee. DSWD-XI also sent 3,000 family food packs and 1 big tent.

The resources extended by the three DSWD field offices are on top of the P3.5 million initially provided by DSWD Region IX, LGU of Zamboanga, and Civil Society Organizations.

As of 6 am today, total number of displaced families is 5,181 families with 24,393 persons. Of this number, 4,669 families or 21,335 persons are still staying in the 15 identified evacuation centers around the city. Majority or 3,281 families are staying at the Sports Complex. The evacuees are continuously provided with relief supplies and hot meals while children-evacuees undergo play therapy sessions to lessen their trauma.

The DSWD said that it would initially distribute 5,000 family access cards to the evacuees. The family access card will ensure the equitable distribution of relief goods to the evacuees. It shows whether a family-evacuee has received enough assistance or still underserved.

Meanwhile, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said that the DSWD-NCR has now set up a help desk center to assess the needs of stranded Manila to Zamboanga City bound passengers at NAIA Terminal 3 for five days now.

There are 35 strandees including six minors and a pregnant woman. Most of the strandees opted to reroute their flights to Dipolog tomorrow. The DSWD-NCR initially provided the strandees with heavy meals, bottled water, biscuits, and cup noodles for snacks while at the airport.

Social workers were also deployed to Port Area to validate if there are Zamboanga-bound passengers who are also stranded at the Manila South Harbor.

In a related development, the DSWD reported that an undetermined number of affected families were evacuated to safer grounds after an armed conflict also occurred at Barangay Colonia in Lamitan, Basilan. The Provincial Social Welfare Office of Basilan is still monitoring the situation in the area to determine the number of displaced families. (dswd.gov.ph)