By Leslie Gatpolintan/PNA
MANILA — The Australian government on Aug 7 vowed to provide the Philippines an additional AUD20 million (roughly PHP800 million) over the next four years to help about 360,000 people of the Marawi City conflict.
“Today I announce that the Australian Government will provide assistance to ease civilian suffering caused by the siege in the Philippine city of Marawi and contribute to peace-building in the area,” said Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in a statement.
Bishop said the amount is in addition to the emergency food and other supplies valued at AUD920,000 (PHP36 million) that Australia announced last month.
The Australian Foreign Minister said her country’s assistance was aimed to meet the “urgent needs” of these displaced people of Marawi, including through child protection and counselling services.
It will also fund small-scale infrastructure projects for communities around Marawi, including provision of clean drinking water and repair of local roads.
Bishop said the Australian government likewise will assist community peace-building efforts and strengthen local capacity to resist and counter extremism.
She noted Australia remains committed to supporting the peace process and development in Muslim Mindanao, which were “critical for a strong, stable Philippines, and our assistance will complement the existing programs and priorities of the Philippine government.”
“The Australian government continues to work with the Philippine government to combat terrorism in the region,” she said.
Bishop on Monday paid a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte where they discussed the conflict in Marawi and the impact it is having on civilians in the region.
She was in the country to attend the meetings in relation to the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).