Your support makes it possible for Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) to help prevent COVID-19 in remote Bangsamoro communities in Mindanao island in Southern Philippines.
Without your support, our teams would not be able to provide vital COVID-19 prevention education to internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in these remote communities. Our teams have been going door-to-door in the Sagonsongan IDP shelter sites and speaking on local radio stations to give orientations on safe distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE). And through our strong community relationships and long-term presence in the area, you have also helped support women’s groups who are producing and distributing facemasks.
Whose lives are you impacting?
The people living in these shelter sites are in large part people who had to flee one of the most violent conflicts of the Southern Philippines in recent memory. In May 2017, intense violent fighting broke out in the city of Marawi, causing 98% of the city, as well as residents from nearby villages, to flee to safety in the wake of the crisis. During that time, NP was there to work with local leaders to facilitate the rescue of more than 1,500 trapped civilians through the route that was called the “Peace Corridor.”
You make it possible to continue supporting this community. Our ongoing commitment to civilian protection has allowed us to build strong relationships with local community members, which is vital in times of crisis. Our protection officer Daphne Iris Macatimbol knows that “because of NP’s relationships, local groups feel like they can reach out to us and ask for our help.” This is critical for the COVID-19 response, which requires information sharing and trusted messengers.
Preventing COVID-19 and violence go hand-in-hand
For those living in areas affected by violence, oftentimes survival from the perils of armed conflict takes immediate priority. This makes it extremely difficult for the displaced families to follow all COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
Ronnie Delsy, Director of NP Philippines, shares that "basic COVID-19 prevention steps like social distancing and wearing facemasks just can't become a priority for families who are on the run and taking shelter away from being caught in the crossfires of war.”
Our teams have also been working hard to advocate for civilians to have access to basic resources. COVID-19 quarantine measures imposed by national and local governments have affected access to work, food, and other basic resources that the people need to survive.
"NP's network would surely be a great help to our current effort on monitoring and coordinating needs and assistance to areas in Mindanao.”
Because of trusted relationships and our long-term presence in the area, NP has been closely involved with COVID-19 responses from the outset. And we know that the only way to face violence and virus prevention is by working together. "NP's network would surely be a great help to our current effort on monitoring [violence and COVID-19 cases] and coordinating needs, and assistance to areas in Mindanao,” said Ariel Felicidario III, a leader of the Coordinating Center for Mindanao on COVID-19.
The people of Mindanao continue to struggle with armed conflict, displacement, and now the pandemic. This is why your support is so critical.