Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, gestures as she is welcomed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the former's courtesy call at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Bishop is here to attend the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and its Dialogue Partners. AP/Bullit Marquez

Australia provides $20M worth of aid to Marawi
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - August 8, 2017 - 3:33am

MANILA, Philippines — Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday announced that their government will provide $20 million worth of assistance over four years to civilians affected by the conflict in Marawi City.

The assistance would also contribute to peace building in the area, according to Australia's top diplomat.

"Yesterday I met with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, our second meeting for 2017. We discussed the conflict in Marawi and the impact it is having on civilians in the region," Bishop said in a media release.

Bishop added that the $20-million assistance would be in addition to the emergency food and other supplies worth $920,000 that she announced last June 20.

Around 360,000 people were forced to flee their homes due to the siege in Marawi City following an attack from ISIS-inspired Maute group.

"Australia’s support will help meet the urgent needs of these displaced people including through child protection and counselling services," Bishop said.

The support from Australia would also fund small-scale infrastructure projects for communities around Marawi such as the provision of clean drinking water and the repair of local roads.

"In addition, the Australian Government will assist community peacebuilding efforts and strengthen local capacity to resist and counter extremism," she said.

Bishop stressed that Australia remains committed to supporting the peace process in Mindanao and that their programs would complement with existing programs of the Philippine government.

"The Australian Government continues to work with the Philippine Government to combat terrorism in the region," Bishop said.

Last June, the Australian government offered to send two surveillance aircraft to assist Filipino government forces in its fight against ISIS-inspired militants in Mindanao.

Two AP-3C aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force provided surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

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