TACLOBAN CITY – The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is willing to extend the mobile civil registration project beyond the June 30 timetable, recognizing the enormous need to reconstruct legal identities of storm survivors.
The three-month implementation of MCRP, according to UNHCR Philippines representative Bernard Kerblat is subject to extension, depending on the needs.
“June 30 is a planning date. We will see as we go along with the implementation. If there’s a need to extend it, of course we will not withdraw it,” said Kerblat on the sidelines of actual monitoring of MCRP along with its main donor, UK Aid.
“We operate not on the basis of the calendar, but we are working on the basis of needs. These people need to reestablish civil records and we have to support them,” Kerblat added.
Earlier, the UNHCR has forged ties with non-government organization Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) in carrying out MCRP in 20 cities and municipalities in Eastern Visayas flattened by the super typhoon last year.
The target is to facilitate free registration and issue copies of civil registration documents to 100,000 typhoon survivors from April 1 to June 30, 2014. IDEALS has deployed some 200 community workers in pilot areas.
As of this week, 44,000 individuals have been listed for processing of documents.
“While we concentrate on physical rehabilitation, we should also concentrate on the rehabilitation of the heart. What goes to the heart and mind of survivors. Restoration of legal records is important. It is giving back dignity to these people,” Kerblat stressed.
The documents will reestablish the survivor’s civil identities, thus allowing them to access government aid, education, and employment.
For MCRP, the UN agency has allocated US$380,000 for the procurement of computers, printers, forms, generator sets, and mobilization of teams.
“It’s only a small cost, but it has a very high impact on the daily lives of people,” the UNHCR top official added.
MCRP is not a new project of UNHCR. The agency implemented the same program for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mindanao since 2011. This emergency intervention was also provided in the aftermath of Typhoons Washi and Bopha, and in conflict-areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.