SOME 4,700 people displaced by armed violence in Surigao del Sur recently received from the Red Cross substantial support to rebuild their lives.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Surigao del Sur chapter, distributed aid to indigenous families who returned to their hometowns in Tago, Marihatag, San Miguel, Lianga and San Agustin in September this year.
“When we returned home after spending a year in the sports complex in Tandag City, all our livestock and crops had died. Weeds and grass covered our fields. We will have to replant and revive our farms so we can provide for our families,” Demetrio Bada of Barangay Lagangan, Tago, said.
Thousands of people fled their homes after three civilians were killed by armed men in September 2015.
A week later, the ICRC gave relief items to displaced families who were sheltered in the provincial sports complex.
“The main challenge for these returning communities will be how they can restart their lives. It will take them at least six months to start rebuilding. With ample support, they will be able to recover faster,” Olav Sinsuat, ICRC office head in Butuan, Agusan del Norte, said.
The ICRC provided each family with half-month food rations consisting of 25 kilos of rice, 12 cans of sardines, 2 liters of oil, 1 liter of soy sauce, 1 kilogram of sugar, ½ kilogram of salt, as well as hygiene supplies.
Each family also received plant seeds so they could produce vegetables in their backyards, for their consumption.
Between September 2015 and February 2016, the ICRC and the PRC helped more than 3,200 displaced people in Surigao del Sur through food, household and medical items; provision of potable water; and construction of toilets in the evacuation center.
The ICRC is a neutral and independent humanitarian organization whose mandate is to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence.
It has established its presence in the Philippines for more than 60 years and has been in Mindanao since 1986.