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The ICRC in the Philippines

20-02-2014 Overview

The ICRC established a permanent presence in the Philippines in 1982, although the organization had been active in the country since 1959. The ICRC delegation in Manila currently focuses its humanitarian response on isolated areas of the country suffering from the often chronic consequences of long-running armed conflicts.

According to the needs of affected communities, the ICRC delivers a range of integrated humanitarian activities, including access to water, livelihood support, and health-care services. It also promotes respect for international humanitarian law by weapon bearers and concerned authorities. When requested to do so, the ICRC acts as a discreet, non-political intermediary between groups at odds with each other. The organization conducts many activities with the Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC’s primary humanitarian partner in the country.

Assisting vulnerable communities

Many communities have been caught in the middle of cyclical, decade-long conflict, often contributing to entrenched poverty and a lack of access to basic services. The ICRC assists these vulnerable communities to restore or enhance their livelihoods through agricultural and fishing projects. It also works with them to restore and improve their access to clean water by rehabilitating and building water networks and setting up emergency distribution systems.

Support to local health facilities in conflict-affected areas ranges from donating medical supplies to installing temporary hospitals in an emergency. Moreover, by providing technical and infrastructural support to the Davao Jubilee Foundation, a physical rehabilitation centre in Mindanao, the ICRC seeks to improve the treatment provided to disabled people and amputees, including victims of violence.

Responding to emergencies

When natural disasters hit conflict-prone areas, the ICRC helps affected communities recover by providing food and household items, reconstructing essential services, and offering livelihood support. The organization also helps restore contact between separated family members.

Supporting detainee welfare

Throughout decades of internal armed conflict in the Philippines, the ICRC has visited detainees across the country, particularly those individuals held in relation to armed conflicts. The organization monitors conditions of detention and treatment of detainees. In 2007, the ICRC and the national authorities launched a programme called “Call for Action”, addressing the legal and procedural issues leading to overcrowding in prisons, deficient living conditions for detainees, and poor detainee health conditions, notably the spread of tuberculosis.

The ICRC has a total of 400 local and expatriate staff in the Philippines. In addition to the delegation in Manila, there are ICRC sub-delegations in Davao (Mindanao) and Guiuan (Samar) and offices in Cotabato, Zamboanga and Bislig (Mindanao), Bacolod (Negros Occidental), Tacloban (Leyte) and Basey (Samar).