By Jel Santos
About 2,000 people displaced by clashes in Basilan were helped by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The people affected by the clashes were displaced for over a month after armed clashes broke out between government security forces and armed groups in the Municipality of Sumisip.
“We are deeply concerned about the effect of prolonged displacement on these families. Unable to take care of their farms, these families struggle to provide for their loved ones,” Piotr Dregiel, ICRC office head in Zamboanga, said in a statement.
The data of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) in Sumisi showed that nearly 200 families that fled their homes in April 2019 because of the fighting have been staying in Barangay Mangal.
At least 190 families displaced to Barangay Tumahubong by the clashes since June 2016 have not yet returned home as they fear of being caught in the middle of the crossfire, ICRC said.
“Though they received initial assistance from the authorities, they need further support due to their continued displacement,” Dregiel said.
On May 25, ICRC delivered assistance through the Philippine Red Cross.
“Each family received 25 kilograms of rice, one litre of oil, one litre of soy sauce, one kilogram of sugar, half kilogram of salt, 12 tins of sardine, and hygiene material including shampoo, bath and laundry soap, sanitary pad, toothbrush and toothpaste that would cater to a family of five for at least 15 days.”
ICRC reminded the two parties involved to protect civilians, stressing that they must not be targeted.
“We remind all parties to the conflict about the need to protect civilians and those who are not or no longer participating in the hostilities. They must not be targeted, and their lives and dignity are to be protected at all times,” Dregiel reiterated.