May 27, 2019
MANILA – Nearly 2,000 people in Basilan province, southern Philippines, have been coping with their displacement for over a month after armed clashes broke out between government security forces and armed groups in Sumisip municipality.
“We are deeply concerned about the effect of prolonged displacement on these families. Unable to take care of their farms, these families struggle to provide for their loved ones,” said Piotr Dregiel, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Zamboanga.
According to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) in Sumisip, around 200 families that fled their homes in April 2019 due to the fighting have been staying in Barangay Mangal. In addition, almost 190 families displaced to Barangay Tumahubong by intermittent clashes since June 2016 have not yet returned home due to the fear of being caught in the fighting.
“Though they received initial assistance from the authorities, they need further support due to their continued displacement,” Dregiel said.
To address the needs of these 2,000 displaced people, the ICRC delivered assistance on 25 May through the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). Each family received 25 kilograms of rice, 1 litre of oil, 1 litre of soy sauce, one kilogram of sugar, half kilogram of salt, 12 tins of sardine, and hygiene material including shampoo, bath and laundry soap, sanitary pad, toothbrush and toothpaste that would cater to a family of five for at least 15 days.
The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent organization whose exclusively 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. It has an international mandate to promote knowledge for and compliance with international humanitarian law.
“We remind all parties to the conflict about the need to protect civilians and those who are not or no longer participating in the hostilities. They must not be targeted, and their lives and dignity are to be protected at all times,” stressed Dregiel.