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Philippines: Civilians with no homes to return to

27-09-2013 Operational Update

ICRC/Philippine Red Cross – More than two weeks after the outbreak of violence in Zamboanga, 132 people have so far been killed and a further 213 wounded according to government sources. Over 118,000 civilians have fled their homes with few if any belongings. Prospects for the displaced are looking very grim.

"Our house was completely razed by fire," said Milagrosa Magalso, a 46-year-old mother of two who used to live in barangay Santa Catalina, one of the areas hardest hit by the fighting. "It's hard to accept that we'll have to start building our lives again from the ground up." With thousands of houses completely burned down and public infrastructure having suffered significant damage as a result of the fighting, many civilians will never be able to return to their homes.

"This is a devastating reality for the population of Zamboanga as a whole," said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Philippine Red Cross. "Besides losing their homes, many people have lost their livelihoods. They will need to rebuild their lives from scratch, which will take considerable time and effort. Together with the International Committee of the Red Cross, we have to prepare for and work to respond to long-term displacement."

From the onset of the crisis, the relief operations carried out jointly by the Philippine Red Cross and the ICRC have focused mainly on addressing needs in the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, the biggest evacuation centre in the city. The two organizations have further scaled up their joint relief operations since last week and are also attending to the needs of people affected in other areas of the city.

Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex

  • Daily distributions of hot meals for an average of 10,000 displaced people. About 134,000 hot meals were served between 9 and 21 September. In support of the Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC sent 1,000 food kits containing 25 kg of rice, oil, sardines, sugar, coffee, salt and soy sauce to the Zamboanga chapter.
  • Distribution of items such as kitchen utensils, jerrycans, basins, towels, and bath and laundry soap to 33,000 people.
  • A total of 31 communal tents made of tarpaulins provided by the ICRC have so far been erected by 120 evacuees participating in a cash-for-work scheme. The tents can shelter more than 2,500 persons.
  • Clean drinking water provided by means of three water bladders with a total capacity of 30,000 litres and refilled daily through water trucking.
  • At the Philippine Red Cross emergency health station, two doctors, six nurses and two Philippine Red Cross staff members have so far provided consultations and outpatient services for 625 patients. One ambulance on standby for hospital referrals.
  • Psychosocial support provided by a welfare team of 10 Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers. About 11,000 individuals including some children have received critical stress incident management (one-on-one interviews), art and play therapy (colouring, drawing, storytelling) for children, or video presentations.
  • Nearly 150 people have requested and received assistance from the Philippine Red Cross in restoring contact with or locating relatives who were separated from them during the fighting. At the Philippine Red Cross welfare desk they availed of free mobile calls and text messages.
  • Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers and 20 medical students from Zamboanga are providing health and hygiene promotion and training for community health volunteers and the displaced.

Other areas of Zamboanga city

  • Clean drinking water provided by means of five water bladders with a total capacity of 30,000 litres each and refilled daily through water trucking.
  • Distribution of dry food parcels containing 15-day rations to 800 people.
  • In total, 1,830 people have received items, such as kitchen utensils, jerrycans, basins, towels, bath and laundry soap, tarpaulins and mats.
  • Distribution of 443 sleeping mats to displaced Badjao indigenous people living from fishing who have chosen to stay in their boats along the coastline.
  • ICRC medical supplies for the treatment of 50 patients with weapon-related injuries and for the general care of up to 1,000 other patients provided for the temporary hospital set up in Western Mindanao University.

First-aid and ambulance service provided for weapon-wounded patients and other general referrals by Philippine Red Cross personnel.

For further information, please contact:
Soaade Messoudi, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 918 907 2125
Allison Lopez, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 908 868 6884
Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 30 23 or +41 79 251 93 02