UN agency forms ARMM team

Cotabato City - Speedy humanitarian interventions in disaster-prone areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have been organized with the backing of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC), ARMM officials announced over the weekend.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, and UNHCR Country Representative Arjun Jain signed here Thursday a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) forming a localized Human Emergency Action and Response Team (HEART) to help ''curtail impact of disasters in the region,'' ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia said.

The forging of the joint-venture entailed the UNHCR to yield an initial funding of $20,000 to bankroll the formation and launching of various HEART activities in ''identified pilot areas'' in the ARMM, Alamia said.

Local scribe Amir Mawalil, new director of the ARMM's Bureau of Public Information (BPI), said the UN agency also allocated an additional $100,000 for technical support activities, and acquisition of service vehicles for the HEART workers.

''The creation of the (regional) HEART (was) in view of the huge humanitarian impact of man-made and natural disasters in parts of the region,'' Mawalil quoted Hataman as saying at the signing rites here.

In separate statements, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, and Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiiong Jr. welcomed the creation of the HEART, saying the maiden program would greatly boost their respective administrations' existing initiatives towards man-made and natural calamities.

Data gathered by the UNHCR, and the Regional Human Rights Commission for the ARMM shows that at least 54,745 persons have experienced various displacements in the region over the last 18 months, Alamia said.

The recorded figures revealed that ''natural disasters as the leading cause of displacements in the ARMM, accounting for 57 percent of total displacements or 199,979 persons, followed by armed conflict at 20 percent or 70,989 persons, crime and violence at 12 percent covering 41,587 persons, and rido (family feuds) at 11 percent or 40,885 individuals,'' Alamia said.

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