50,000 displaced in fighting in three Mindanao provinces: ICRC
An international humanitarian group reported that the number of people displaced because of the encounters between the military and armed groups in three provinces in southern Philippines has reached 50,000.
A report from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the areas involved were in the province of Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.
The report noted that in Lanao del Sur more than 1,800 families or 9,000 people displaced due to clashes between the military and the Maute terrorist group near the area of Tuburan and Pagayawan.
The ICRC did not name the threat group involved in the clashes with the government forces.
However Col. Noel Detoyato, Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) Public Affairs Office Chief said the only threat group the military is fighting in Bukidnon are the members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Majority of the displaced families fled to nearby evacuation centers, while some sought shelters with relatives (home based) around Marogong,”the report stated.
“The ICRC, which has access to this remote and complex area, stepped in to distribute half-month food rations, household and hygiene items to around 6,500 displaced people in Tuburan and Pagawayan, with the PRC (Philippine Red Cross),” it added.
In Bukidnon, the ICRC has recorded a total of 180 families displaced from Sitio Pandarasdasan and Brgy. Cawayan in Lantapan municipality because of clashes between the in the area in previous month.
The report said the affected population sought shelter in the evacuation centers at San Fernando and Malaybalay in Bukidnon.
“The provincial government provided food supplies in early march but it may not be sufficient if the displacement continues,” the report stated.
“After conducting an assessment, the ICRC distributed essential household items to more than 650 displaced people in San Fernando and Malaybalay,” it added.
The ICRC said the highest number of displaced persons reached around 39,600 people. This was recorded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the province of Maguindanao.
“Since the end of February, the government forces have engaged with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) located across Salbu-Pigatin-Mamasapano-Shariff Aguak or the “SPMS box” and the adjacent marshlands in Maguindanao,” the report stated.
“The ICRC conducted field assessment and is set to provide food and household items to around 4,250 displaced people in Datu Saudi, Datu Unsay and Shariff Aguak,” it added.
“Two major hospitals and seven rural health units are getting medicines and medical supplies, and when access is safe, interventions will be done for improved access to water and sanitation,” the report noted. Robina Asido/DMS