Thousands of displaced families in Maguindanao province deprived of the basic necessities because of intense fighting in the area have been provided with food good for half a month, other supplies and household items by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The ICRC, in cooperation with the Philippine Red Cross, helped about 11,600 people in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town.
“While the attention over the recent months has been mostly focused on the Marawi conflict, several communities in Maguindanao have also been seriously affected by armed clashes. We remain concerned about their plight as they have been displaced for more than three months,” said Tomoko Matsuzawa, head of the ICRC’s office in Cotabato.
Since August, the Philippine military and various armed groups have been engaged in armed fighting in the area known as the SPMS Box (Barangay Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan – Barangay Pagatin, Datu Salibo – Mamasapano – Shariff Aguak) in Maguindanao.
Over the past couple of months, while majority of the displaced families have returned home to plant rice and other crops, they are staying close to main roads, ready to evacuate in case the fighting resumes.
The remaining families, coming from areas more exposed to repeated armed encounters, have opted to stay in host communities.
“These families have reduced the number of meals to two per day, and also limited them in variety. It is important that as people try and restore their lives, they receive basic support to do so,” Matsuzawa said.
During the three-day distribution recently, each family from four barangay (villages) received 25 kilos of rice, one liter of soy sauce, one liter of oil, 12 tins of sardines, 1 kilo of sugar, salt, two jerry cans of 20 liters each and hygiene items for the household.
The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian 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.