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Philippines: operation under way to aid more than 80,000 displaced peoplein Mindanao

14-08-2008 News Release 08/148

Geneva/Manila (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine National Red Cross have jointly begun bringing aid to the more than 80,000 people displaced in the southern Philippines by recent hostilities between the armed forces and fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

According to the authorities, 130,000 people fled their homes in North Cotabato Province to seek shelter along the Mindanao highway in Libungan, Midsayap, Aleosan, Pikit and Tulunan.

" Many displaced people have found shelter in evacuation centres near their homes. They mainly need food and basic shelter items such as tarpaulins, water containers and mosquito nets, " said Felipe Donoso, the ICRC’s head of delegation in the Philippines. In response to those needs, the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross have provided emergency equipment to boost the capacity of evacuation centres to provide adequate help for the displaced.

The ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross are loading trucks in Cotabato City to distribute food rations, beginning 15 August, for up to 80,000 displaced people.

Water and sanitation kits, which contain an assortment of water bladder tanks, pumps and pipes that can serve 15,000 people, are due to arrive in Cotabato City today. The ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross also stand ready to deploy a mobile water-treatment unit to provide safe and clean water for the displaced as well as the resident population.

Meanwhile, ICRC staff are assessing the needs of about 5,000 people displaced by fighting on the island of Basilan.

The ICRC reminds the parties involved in the hostilities of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law – in particular, they must take every measure possible to spare civilians the effects of hostilities and they must allow deliveries of emergency relief and medical supplies for people in need.

  For further information, please contact:
  Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2405 or +41 79 217 32 26
  Roland Bigler, ICRC Manila, tel: +0063 918 907 2125