Philippines: Floods worsen situation for displaced persons in Zamboanga
18-10-2013 Operational Update
At the start of October, five consecutive days of rain submerged Zamboanga, increasing the health risks for people displaced by recent fighting. The ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross continue to help those most in need.
Chest-deep floods in some villages placed an additional strain on the city’s residents, yet to recover after fighting between government troops and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) caused thousands to flee their homes. New evacuation centres have opened to accommodate new flood victims, along with families who have had to leave seriously flooded centres like the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex.
"With all this rain, it's muddy even inside our tent and the children are getting ill. We really want to go back to our house now but they said it's all burned down," explained Mia Juwaran, a resident of Brgy, Rio Hondo, whose family has found shelter along the Cawa-Cawa shoreline.
Together with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the ICRC continues to help people displaced by the clashes and/or affected by the floods.
"The flooding degraded sanitation and hygiene in many evacuation centres, while high winds destroyed shelters, piling extra misery onto people who were already living in very difficult conditions," said Sebastien Sujobert, an ICRC delegate working in Zamboanga.
"While most of the floods have subsided, there is still stagnant water in some areas. The health risks remain high as we expect rains to continue this season," he added.
Some of the 41,000 people living in 29 evacuation centres will probably have to stay there for the next two months, as shelling or flooding have damaged many houses.
Others have lost their means of livelihood. "Many people are not allowed to go back to their villages, as the authorities are still conducting clearing operations. Heavy rains have slowed down those operations, delaying their return," said Victor Liozo Jr, administrator of the PRC's Zamboanga chapter.
Between 5 and 16 October, the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross delivered emergency aid, improved sanitation, provided basic health care and improved living conditions for displaced people.
Together, the two organizations:
- distributed one-month food rations, household items and hygiene items to around 5,000 families in seven evacuation centres;
- delivered 40 tonnes of rice and 25,000 tins of sardines to the PRC's Zamboanga chapter, for distribution to 8,000 families;
- started building latrines in Taluksangay National High School, with 32 latrines already installed;
- will build a number of latrines at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, where sanitation needs are acute;
- operated "cleaning brigades" in seven evacuation centres, employing over 1,000 evacuees, who were paid for sweeping and waste disposal;
- promoted health and hygiene, including proper hand washing techniques, at four evacuation centres;
- provided clean drinking water via nine water storage bladders at six evacuation centres;
- donated plumbing materials to Zamboanga City Water District, so they could install new water points connected to the public network;
- operated a basic health-care unit round the clock at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex;
- deployed an ICRC medical team to Zamboanga, to assess public health, focusing on displaced people living in evacuation centres.
ICRC teams, including medical personnel, visited and registered 285 people in Zamboanga whom the authorities had detained in connection with the fighting. They monitored their conditions of detention and their treatment and supplied all detainees with clothes and toiletries.
Meanwhile, flooding and separate hostilities have hit Basilan, in the Sulu archipelago. The ICRC has supported the PRC Basilan chapter’s operations by donating 10 tonnes of rice and 6,000 tins of sardines, which the PRC will be distributing to 2,000 families.