The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deplores the loss of life and injuries to civilians that resulted from yesterday's twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu province, southern Philippines.
According to reports obtained from health officials in Sulu and Zamboanga, 20 people were killed while 111 were hurt in Sunday's two successive blasts at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the provincial capital of Jolo.
"We are deeply concerned by the number of civilians being injured or killed as a result of deliberate attacks. We deplore any violence committed against civilians," said Martin Thalmann, head of the ICRC delegation in the Philippines. "We appeal to all parties to the conflict to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) and thus ensure that civilians and civilian objects are spared and protected at all times. IHL prohibits direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects in all circumstances," he said.
In the wake of the attack, the ICRC team in Zamboanga City coordinated with its national partner, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), specifically its Sulu chapter that quickly responded to the incident; and with public and military hospitals where the wounded were taken. Two of these hospitals recently received donations of medicines and medical supplies from the ICRC.
Today, an ICRC health team visited a hospital in Zamboanga City to assess the needs of 18 severely wounded patients, and of patients who are being transported to Zamboanga, for possible support of their individual treatment.
The ICRC supports seven hospitals in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao with medicines and medical supplies. Last year, 242 responders in Mindanao, including nurses from Sulu, were trained to provide quality emergency medical care to wounded people.
It also supports capacity-building of PRC chapters in Sulu and Basilan to respond to emergencies and provides support for displaced civilians.
The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization whose exclusive humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance, regardless of their political affiliation.
The ICRC seeks to speak to all sides involved in a conflict to secure access for humanitarian assistance and to ensure respect for the rules of armed conflict.
For further information, please contact:
Lany de la Cruz (in Davao), mobile: +63 999 887 0985
Allison Lopez (in Manila), mobile: +63 908 868 6884
Raul Caceres (in Manila), mobile: +63 928 504 7648