News release

Philippines: Thousands flee fighting in central Mindanao

Manila (ICRC) – Thousands of people have fled their homes as fighting between government security forces and armed groups escalates in Maguindanao province, in central Mindanao. The number of displaced people is rising.

Entire communities from villages in Kalbugan and Buliok, in Maguindanao, displaced by a range of clashes in early February fear returning to their homes owing to the risk of explosive devices and the general uncertainty of the situation.

"Civilians are forced to flee out of fear. Displacement, especially when it's prolonged and repeated, uproots people from their normal lives and causes untold suffering," said Pascal Mauchle, head of the ICRC's delegation in the Philippines. These families need food, clean water and access to sanitation, he said.

The ICRC reminds all parties to the fighting to respect human life and dignity. Civilians and civilian property – such as houses, agricultural land, water-supply lines and health-care facilities – must be safeguarded. All injured or sick people – regardless of their religion, ethnic group, gender or political beliefs – must receive medical treatment appropriate to their condition.

Working closely with the Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC delivered relief, such as food and hygiene items, last week to some 20,000 people in North Cotabato and Maguindanao; and began providing drinking water daily in two evacuation centres. With their presence on the ground and close proximity to the affected population, both organizations stand ready to provide further support.

2,275 displaced families in Pikit, North Cotabato received half-month food rations and other items from the ICRC and PRC last week. Many of them hesitate to return home due to the uncertainty. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/L. de la Cruz

The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization whose mandate is to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. It has had an established presence in the Philippines for over 60 years and a permanent presence in Mindanao since 1986.

For further information, please contact:
Allison Lopez, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 908 868 6884
Wolde Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 918 907 2125