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Philippine/Mindanao: ICRC steps up assistance for displaced people

28-07-2000 News Release 00/28

An upsurge in fighting between the Philippine armed forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the past few months on the island of Mindanao has caused tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

The ICRC office in Davao, the Iargest city in Mindanao, has been working closely with the Philippine Red Cross to provide assistance for 10,450 families that have been displaced within the provinces of North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Sarangani and North and South Lanao. Since January, nearly 63,000 people temporarily accommodated in 48 evacuation centres have thus received food and other items according to needs. 

In addition, latrines have been built to prevent the outbreak of disease, water pumps and pipes have been rehabilitated in 14 centres sheltering a total of 17,000 people, and instruction in basic health care has been given by Red Cross volunteers to over 4,000 people living in three others. The ICRC and the National Society are also providing medicine for the makeshift hospital in Parang, Maguindanao, which treated up to 350 patients a day at the height of the exodus.

Some schools are being used as evacuation centres and the Red Cross has therefore built over 55 temporary classrooms to enable nearly 3,000 schoolchildren to resume classes. Some 20,000 pupils are also to receive notebooks printed with basic Red Cross information.

The ICRC reopened its office in Davao in June 1999. Two delegates and five local staff are currently addressing humanitarian needs on the island.