More than 63,000 individuals displaced by the fighting between government security forces and armed groups in Maguindanao province received relief assistance from the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and its local counterpart.
From 28 April to 20 May, assistance from the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) reached almost 15,000 families, who are either living in evacuation centers or have sought shelter with host families and relatives.
These families are from the municipalities of Datu Salibo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Mamasapano, Sharif Aguak and Sharif Saydona Mustapha.
“While many families have since returned to their homes, thousands remain scattered in evacuation centres. We supplemented the support given by the authorities because the prolonged displacement has had an impact on the people’s livelihoods, putting a strain on their ability to meet their basic needs,” said Sabine Gralla, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato.
“In addition, majority of them rely on farming, which has been adversely affected by the dry spell,” she added.
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.
The organization was established in the country 60 years ago and has been present in Mindanao since 1986.
The charitable organization distributed 25 kilograms of rice, 12 tins of sardines, 5 litres of oil, 1 litre of soy sauce, 1 kilogram of sugar, half a kilogram of salt, 300 grams of coffee and a hygiene kit for each family.
“This is a big help for all evacuees, especially those of us who have returned to our village. Our fields and crops have since dried up, so we have to start from scratch. It will take some time before we can replant,” said Mariam Talusan Sulaiman of Malangog village in Datu Unsay.
Over 60 Philippine Red Cross volunteers and ICRC staff were involved, using a new electronic registration system that reduced the registration time for beneficiaries and accelerated the distribution of relief. Community leaders also played a major role in validating the identities of those who were unable to present identification documents.
Meanwhile, the ICRC continues to provide displaced persons with 110,000 litres of potable water daily from 49 tanks installed in 27 evacuation sites.