• Residents caught in Maguindanao crossfire

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    AN international humanitarian organization on Tuesday called on both the government forces and armed groups in Maguindanao to abide by the laws of war to prevent further displacement and casualties among the civilians as clashes continue in the region.

    “We are worried about the fate of civilians caught in the fighting. We call on all parties to the conflict to strictly abide by international humanitarian law (IHL),” Dominic Earnshaw, head of the International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Cotabato, said.

    “In particular, we remind them that they should take all measures to avoid indiscriminate attacks that may harm civilians. We are deeply alarmed by incidents involving roadside explosive devices that have resulted in injuries and deaths,” Earnshaw added.

    To help treat all the weapon-wounded – without any distinction – the ICRC donated emergency kits and medicines to health facilities in the provinces of Maguindanao, Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat.

    A field assessment conducted by an ICRC team on Feb. 24 showed that the displaced population in Maguindanao and North Cotabato have already benefited from initial assistance provided by local authorities.

    “The ICRC will continue to monitor the situation of the affected population in order to identify any gaps in humanitarian assistance, in coordination with the authorities and the Philippine Red Cross,” Earnshaw said.

    Recent armed clashes which erupted in Butig, Lanao del Sur have caused thousands of residents to leave their homes to avoid being caught in the fighting.

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