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Philippines: fresh displacement in Central Mindanao

28-10-2008 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

" Fighting has triggered fresh displacement in Central Mindanao, particularly around Datu Piang, Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Mamasapano (southern Philippines) " said Jean-Daniel Tauxe, head of the ICRC delegation in the Philippines.

" At present, there are around 55,000 displaced individuals in Datu Piang Poblacion alone. This figure compares with'only'35,000 individuals sheltering there in August. " Datu Piang Poblacion now has as many displaced people as long-term residents. " The solidarity of the local population is remarkable. Some families are playing host to as many as 20 displaced people, despite being very poor themselves, " added Mr Tauxe.

ICRC staff, working in close partnership with the Philippine National Red Cross, are stepping up the distribution of food and essential household items to the displaced. " This is obviously our top priority, " said Isabelle Bucher, an ICRC economic-security coordinator. She emphasized that the ICRC has also been evaluating its own aid distributions. " We are attempting to determine the impact that our assistance has on the beneficiaries, " she said. " There are two aspects to this. The first is qualitative: do the items we distribute correspond to the needs of the displaced? The second has to do with the intended beneficiaries: do all of them, particularly the most vulnerable, receive our assistance? If our findings do not entirely match the objectives we set for ourselves, we can make adjustments to our operation. "

In addition to helping those freshly displaced by the fighting, ICRC and Philippine Red Cross staff are carrying out a second round of aid distr ibutions for people who have been displaced for well over a month. " Because of widespread security problems, many of these people do not dare go back to their homes, " said Mr Tauxe.

The ICRC is also building sanitatary facilities in evacuation centres and providing support for medical facilities treating the displaced.

In Mindanao the ICRC has offices in Davao and Zamboanga and permanent staff in both Cotabato City (Maguindanao) and Iligan (Lanao del Norte). Seven to eight teams made up of ICRC and Philippine Red Cross staff carry out their work in the field every day, in coordination with the armed forces and local authorities. They first assess the needs of the displaced, then proceed to distribute aid within days. Since 12 August, they have handed out food and essential household items to more than 120,000 people.

ICRC delegates, in accordance with the organization's mandate, are monitoring the situation of people detained in connection with the conflict. In addition, they are following up allegations of humanitarian concern in order to ensure that belligerents take all necessary measures to spare civilians. The ICRC is discussing these issues on a bilateral and confidential basis with the parties to the conflict.

Finally, the ICRC is pressing ahead with a poster campaign in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao warning the population of the danger of unexploded ordnance.

The emergency operation of the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross complements the efforts of Philippine government agencies and of other international organizations. The ICRC continues to coordinate its activities with the authorities in Mindanao, in particular with representatives of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and the Department of Social Welfare and Development at regional, provincial and municipal levels.

  ICRC in Mindanao: Facts and figures  

Since 12 August, the ICRC has:

  • doubled its personnel in Mindanao, where it now has 53 staff members, including drivers;

  • delivered food to nearly 110,000 individuals in North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani, more than 10,000 of whom have already received a second distribution;

  • delivered essential household items to almost 53,000 individuals in the same regions;

  • provided clean water and sanitation for more than 75,000 people in North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Lanao del Norte;

  • provided eight health-care centres and three hospitals in Mindanao with medicines and supplies, and provided around 100 people, including war-wounded and displaced people, with individual medical assistance;

  • set up a warehouse in Davao from which it can deliver up to 3,000 food rations or kits of household essentials every day;

  • held dissemination sessions on international humanitarian law for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU);

  • monitored the effects of the hostilities on the civilian population and conducted a regular dialogue with the parties to the conflict on protecting civilians.

  For further information, please contact:
  Roland Bigler, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 918 907 2125
  Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26