• Hungry Filipino war refugees rally in front of social welfare center


    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Dozens of hungry war refugees rallied in front of a social welfare center in Zamboanga City and demanded foods as more and more evacuees were complaining about the lack of provisions and other basic necessities two months after they fled the bloody fighting here that left over 400 people dead and wounded.

    About 40 refugees trooped to the operations center of the Department of Social Welfare and Development at the local sports arena Sunday evening, but foods packs were only released on Monday.

    It was not immediately known why refugees were complaining about the lack of food when there are tens of millions of pesos worth of donations from various local governments and international and local donors.

    Thousands of families are still in temporary shelters in the arena where 28 people, mostly children, had died from various diseases. Just recently, a Muslim child, Al Kaiser, died in the same evacuation center due to severe dehydration and diarrhoea.

    Evacuees were complaining about the poor sanitation at the sports complex—now dirty and diseases are threatening the lives of the sickly and the old, and children who do not have immediate access to basic health services.

    The Red Cross have put up clinic in various tents, but is also overwhelmed by the huge number of the sick and people needing medical assistance.

    Many evacuees have complained about not getting enough food or medical care from the local authorities while other begged to be allowed to return home and rebuilt what is left after three weeks of street battles that forced more than 130,000 people to flee their homes.

    Just this month, six evacuees – looking for a warm place to sleep – broke into a storage room of the Commission on Elections inside the sports complex and used it as their temporary shelter. Police said the refugees are all residents of Rio Hondo village who also fled the fighting. AL JACINTO


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