• Muslim child dies in Zamboanga evacuation center


    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Another child has died at a refugee camp in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines and raising the death toll to 28 as tens of thousands of Filipino evacuees continue to suffer from hunger and poor health services.

    Many of the evacuees are in tents inside the sports complex where the child—Al Kaiser—died from severe dehydration and diarrhoea. Kaiser’s mother, Filomena Abdulhamid, could do nothing, but cry to the loss of her son.

    She lost her house and everything valuables after her village—Santa Catalina—was burned down during September’s fighting between security forces and separatist rebels that left over 400 people dead and wounded.

    Evacuees themselves 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.

    The six refugees Abdul Ataolla, 57; Nursida Majid, 39; Amina Haiber, 49; Nerma Dabbang, 54; Insih Febres, 53, and Arsaima Ablayan, 27, were investigated by the police and subsequently released.

    Police said the refugees are all residents of Rio Hondo village who also fled the fighting.

    Police said Allan Corpus, 42, an employee of the Commission on Elections, reported to authorities the break in. It said some confidential documents were allegedly destroyed as a result of the trespassing. AL JACINTO


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