ZAMBOANGA CITY: The recent military offensive against New People’s Army in Davao del Norte has uprooted more than 1,000 people, who are now living in temporary shelters in Davao City.
Denied of nutrition, clean drinking water and medical assistance, these children of mostly tribes people who fled Talaingod town are suffering from various illnesses, human’s right group Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) reported on Monday.
CRC said diarrhea, severe dehydration and pneumonia are prevalent among young children in evacuation centers and three infants were brought to Southern Philippines Medical Center for treatment.
“The intense militarization in Talaingod which caused the community to flee put these children in a grave situation facing starvation and possible illnesses in the evacuation camp. What the children are experiencing in the hands of the current administration, at the helm of the military’s war, is a clear violation of their right to survival, development, participation and their right to be protected from all forms of harm and abuse,” said CRC advocacy officer Rius Valle.
“We hope that they can return to their communities but given the relentless militarization of their areas, it may be difficult for them to return to their homes yet,” said Valle.
Quoting a report by the Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio Foundation, Valle said some 500 displaced Manobo children are now suffering from various ailments including diarrhea, sore eyes, pulmonary tuberculosis, malnutrition, ulcer, gastritis and hyper-acidity.
Valle also denied military reports that various humanitarian groups and human rights were allegedly misleading the public about the suffering of the refugees.
“The children do not want to be here (in evacuation centers in Davao City). We don’t want them uprooted from their homes. But we both don’t have any choice,” Valle said.
“We’d rather have them here with doctors, nurses and support groups ensuring their welfare, rather than have they starved in the deepest parts of Pantaron Range where they traditionally go to in times of militarization.”
Valle also appealed for aid for the evacuees, particularly children, who are now in the care of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City.