Fighting in Mindanao causing new displacements; international Red Cross on standby for new refugees surge

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Evacuees cook their food on the grounds of the old public market in Pagalungan. Clean water and sanitation continue to be a challenge for many evacuees as these are often lacking in the temporary centers. ©ICRC/L. de la Cruz (BicolToday.com)

By BicolToday.com News Team

COTABATO, Mindanao, 2Mar2016 – International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) remains on stand-by mode, ready to provide aid to fleeing refugees as clashes between government security forces and armed groups in Maguindanao province have continued into their fourth (4th) week, causing displacement and casualties.

ICRC has been continuously giving out aid to last year’s displaced communities, and is expecting that a new wave of refugees will come streaming down to safer places as fighting is continuing on a regular basis.

“We are worried about the fate of civilians caught in the fighting. We call on all parties to the conflict to strictly abide by international humanitarian law (IHL),” said Dominic Earnshaw, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato.

“In particular, we remind them that they should take all measures to avoid indiscriminate attacks that may harm civilians. We are deeply alarmed by incidents involving roadside explosive devices that have resulted in injuries and deaths,” Earnshaw said, in a statement sent Monday to online news, BicolToday.com.

To help treat all weapon-wounded – without any distinction – the ICRC donated emergency kits and medicines to health facilities in Maguindanao, Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat.

A field assessment conducted by an ICRC team on 24 February showed that the displaced population in Maguindanao and North Cotabato have already benefitted from initial assistance provided by the local authorities.

“The ICRC will continue to monitor the situation of the affected population in order to identify any gaps in humanitarian assistance, in coordination with the authorities and the Philippine Red Cross,” added Earnshaw.

In addition, armed clashes erupted in Butig, Lanao del Sur, last week. Some residents had to leave their homes to avoid being caught in the fighting. The ICRC is closely following the situation, including the humanitarian consequences of these incidents. It stands ready to provide assistance to the affected population if needs are identified.

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 been present in the Philippines for over 60 years, and in Mindanao since 1982. [BicolToday.com]

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