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Philippines: ICRC requests additional funds for its emergency operation in Mindanao

09-09-2008 News Release 08/168

Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has asked donors for an additional 4.5 million Swiss francs to cover its ongoing emergency operations on the southern island of Mindanao. This represents a 60% increase over the initial 2008 budget of 7.6 million francs.

" The present situation is the worst since 2003, and the humanitarian consequences are very serious, " said Felipe Donoso, who heads the ICRC delegation in Manila. " The scope of the displacement unleashed by the fighting – tens of thousands of civilians have had to flee their homes with nothing but the clothes they were wearing – and its duration make this situation exceptional. The rainy season further aggravates the plight of the displaced, many of whom have to stay in makeshift shelters, " added Mr Donoso.

Immediately after hostilities resumed on 10 August between the armed forces and fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the ICRC launched an emergency operation in close partnership with the Philippine National Red Cross to help the displaced. It provided food, essential household goods, water, shelter and medical care for 70,000 people. To carry out this operation, it had to significantly increase the number of its staff in the field and buy considerable quantities of relief items. As a consequence, the initial 2008 budget for the Philippines was soon exhausted.

The ICRC has maintained regular contacts with the parties to the conflict to promote respect for the civilian population and to remind them of their obligation to comply with the applicable provisions of international humanitarian law. In particular, they must take all possible steps to spare civilians the effects of hostilities and allow and facilitate deliveries of emergency relief and medical supplies to all who need them.

" Given the uncertainty surrounding the peace process and the unremitting violence aggravated by the easy availability of firearms, civilians will continue to suffer, " said Mr Donoso. " The ICRC therefore needs to be ready to provide assistance and protection for 80,000 people per month until the end of the year. Our emergency operation, together with that of the Philippine National Red Cross, complements the efforts of Philippine government agencies and other international organizations. "

For further information, please contact:
  Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26
  Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Manila, tel +63 908 683 8264