Manila: Around 4,000 families displaced by the recent fighting between armed groups in central Mindanao are being assisted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
Almost a month since people in the affected communities fled their homes, the ICRC and PRC volunteers still found many of them seeking shelter in temporary evacuation centers and in the houses of their relatives in Pikit, North Cotabato or in Pagalungan, Maguindanao.
“We left our homes because we feared for our lives. The fighting was less than a kilometer away from where we lived. The evacuation center was already crowded, so my family and I had to sleep on the ground under a tree. We left all our belongings at home,” says 48-year-old Muhammad Impus of Barangay Kalbugan in Pagalungan.
The ICRC and the PRC distributed two weeks’ worth of food rations, along with hygiene kits, tarpaulins and jerry cans, to 1,696 families or around 8,000 people in Pagalungan on Wednesday and Thursday.
“This will supplement the assistance being provided by authorities. We will make a similar delivery of relief items to 2,275 displaced families in Pikit,” explains Maria Carmen Echezarreta Inurritegui, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato.
The ICRC will also deliver 28,000 liters of clean drinking water provided by the Pikit Water District to two evacuation centers in Pagalungan.
Seeing the importance of health centers, the group will also provide assistance to the Cotabato Provincial Hospital and the Dr. Amado Diaz Provincial Hospital in North Cotabato and the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital. The ICRC will also closely monitor the humanitarian situation in North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces.
The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, whose mandate is to protect and assist victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. In Mindanao, it has offices in Davao, Zamboanga, Cotabato and Bislig cities.