Peru’s Armed Forces Provide Humanitarian Aid to At-Risk Communities
By Dialogo February 25, 2016
Peru's Armed Forces are promoting social inclusion and universal access to healthcare services in at-risk communities in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM). Multidisciplinary work carried out by the Armed Forces, government agencies, and private institutions aim to improved quality of life for the diverse communities in that area.
“The Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA) has developed a multidimensional work initiative," Rear Admiral Francisco Bolaños, Chief of the CCFFAA First Division, told Diálogo
in an interview. “We are attempting to transform humanitarian aid operations to a logical sequence that will help us achieve objectives and development processes in the communities.
"This initiative is a focal point that has been worked on at the international level. Thanks to this initiative, authorities now know more about threat evolution, social concepts, failures, and obstacles in development and security processes proposed by states. Humanitarian aid operations are decided based on the needs of the participants.”
Projects in Loreto and in the VRAEM
The CCFFAA has created two projects to guide humanitarian actions and development in at-risk communities in the VRAEM and the Loreto regions. “These two projects or work centers that we are developing will help us obtain tangible results where we can see a focused example of our experiences in applying the new doctrine and procedures for interacting with the various agencies and institutions working on this new approach,” Rear Adm. Bolaños explained.
At the Loreto work center, efforts are centered on multidimensional security, surveillance, and occupying spaces along the border with Colombia, in the Putumayo Zone, and along the Napo River – all areas that are home to indigenous communities. It is challenging for the government to maintain its presence in the Loreto region due to its isolation, the vast Amazon plains, and the difficulty in transportation and support actions. Surveillance and control over the area involves interacting with bordering countries and combating narcotrafficking and criminal groups that have established a presence.
“While these border interaction zones on the fringes may be areas that create good things for the states, they are also sources of bad things because they are corridors for illegal activities,” Rear Adm. Bolaños said. “These are areas where drug traffickers and criminal gangs are active because they represent or have the opportunity to operate. This isn’t easy. There’s a lot of work to do.”
The VRAEM project focuses on the Tambo River basin in the Junín region, where residents are primarily from indigenous communities. The CCFFAA will distribute books at the beginning of the school term in March at various public schools along the Tambo River, and develop a humanitarian aid initiative that will be sustained over time and improve the educational centers.
The VRAEM is Peru's primary zone for cultivating coca and a hub for the Shining Path
. The illegal group plays a key role in processing coca into cocaine, which is shipped to Mexico, the United States, Europe, and Africa, Diálogo
reported in December 2015.
“At the two work centers, we have support from local authorities, universities, private enterprises, and the local community," Rear Adm. Bolaños stated. “It is a challenge to work to develop indigenous communities under particular conditions – conditions that are very different from any other urban or sub-rural area.”
The government agencies and private institutions collaborating on this initiative include the National Commission for Development and a Life without Drugs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and the Association of National Pharmaceutical Industries, which has donated medication, tools, clothing, and basic staple foods. “To talk about the integrated nature of our involvement in bolstering a market or a community is to talk about a sustainable model for generating capacities,” Rear Adm. Bolaños added.
Promoting social inclusion
The Armed Forces launched the multidimensional work initiative to promote social inclusion and access to timely healthcare in the VRAEM. From November 30th to December 5th, the CCFFAA organized the Cleft Lip and Palate Campaign in the district of Satipo in the Junín region.
The free medical treatments were administered at the Manuel Ángel Higa Arakaki Regional Hospital in Satipo. Twenty children under the age of 10 received free surgery for cleft lips or palates, or a facial reconstruction, the CCFFAA stated in a December 5th press release.
The Armed Forces were complemented by 11 surgeons from the non-governmental Christian Broadcasting Network, which also provided cutting-edge medical instruments. “The Joint Command not only conducted cleft lip campaigns, but also campaigns about cataracts or digging wells for water in the Napo River basin under this new work approach,” Rear Adm. Bolaños said.
The Peruvian Navy’s Mobile Social Action Platforms have provided medical and social assistance programs to thousands in the Amazon rainforest. The ships providing the government's services have interpreters to communicate with the indigenous communities they visit.
“[We] have achieved sustainability through the mobility and improvement efforts within the local community,” Rear Adm. Bolaños said. “We must work together; the more we are integrated as a single family, the better the results will be. These populations must know they are part of this country; that the promises made by the Armed Forces are made whole by including them; and that they become stronger through government agencies, private institutions, and the Armed Forces.”
The Armed Forces have battled the Amazon's rough terrain, as well as social conflicts, drug trafficking, extreme poverty, terrorism, human trafficking, illegal logging, illegal mining, and a multitude of diseases to execute the projects and multidimensional efforts. The strategy has been shared with other countries.
“We entered into an agreement with Colombia to develop an integrated social action and to share our experiences to achieve an interagency approach," Rear Adm. Bolaños explained. "[With] Ecuador, it was to address risk factors and new threats in an integrated fashion and through an interagency approach. With Bolivia, we discussed transfers of technology within this multidimensional approach. There is a lot of work to do in Peru and in other countries.”
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