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Philippines: Assistance for 27,500 displaced civilians

02-07-1997 News Release 97/25

The ICRC began a relief operation on 28 June for thousands of civilians who have fled their homes as a result of an upsurge in fighting on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

Under the operation, conducted jointly with the Philippine National Red Cross, relief supplies will be distributed to over 4,600 families (about 27,500 people) in 36 different locations in the province of Cotabato del Norte. Each family will receive a 10-day ration of rice, sardines, drinking water and soap. The distributions are being carried out by volunteers from the Davao and Cotabato branches of the Philippine Red Cross.

The mass exodus of civilians from villages in the combat zones to the towns of Pikit, Kabacan and Pagalungan started on 16 June, prompted by violent clashes in the region between the Philippine army and units of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Quoting official sources, the local press has reported that the ongoing fighting has already claimed over 150 victims. ICRC delegates who travelled to the area on 25 June witnessed the arrival of thousands of families, together with their livestock. They were being housed in makeshift camps and were obviously in urgent need of aid.

The ICRC is staying on the spot to monitor the situation and to remind the warring parties, if need be, of their obligation to respect the civilian population.