ICRC operational update on
resilience of violence-affected communities
April 25, 2014
MANILA – In different
parts of the Philippines, thousands of people affected by fighting
need humanitarian assistance. In Zamboanga City, as elsewhere in
Mindanao and the Visayas, the ICRC is helping communities to recover
and rebuild amid long-standing cycles of violence and poverty.
“We have launched a major
operation with the Philippine Red Cross to assist Typhoon Haiyan
survivors in Samar, but we have certainly not forgotten the many
thousands of people affected by armed conflict elsewhere in the
Philippines,” said Pascal Mauchle, head of the ICRC delegation in
Manila. “We remain committed to helping them, as their needs are also
Helping the displaced in Zamboanga
Seven months after fighting
broke out in Zamboanga City between a faction of the Moro National
Liberation Front and government forces, about 40,000 people are still
displaced from their homes – many of which were destroyed in the
fighting – and living in difficult conditions.
Most of the displaced are
sheltering in tents, improvised wood and tarpaulin structures or
bunkhouses along the Cawa-Cawa shoreline and especially in the Joaquin
"Displaced people are still
largely dependent on assistance from government and aid
organizations," said Gareth Gleed, in charge of the ICRC's activities
in Zamboanga. "Malnutrition has resulted in children dying from
preventable diseases. Supplemental feeding of children under the age
of five and support to families with pregnant or lactating women are
priorities in the drive to push down malnourishment rates."
Working closely with
Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC is maintaining its efforts to improve
hygiene and sanitation conditions and access to potable water and
health care. It is enhancing the drainage system in the stadium and
providing additional latrines. In Rio Hondo, where nearly 2,000 people
have found shelter, the local health station has been renovated. Other
health facilities treating the displaced population in Zamboanga have
been given medical supplies to help cope with increased demand.
In addition, financial
support is being channelled to the neediest in exchange for work or to
help them restart income-generating activities. About 40,000 people
who lost homes and livelihoods in the fighting have received cash
without conditions, giving them the freedom to invest in what they
need most. Cash-for-work schemes for about 1,200 displaced people are
helping ensure that garbage is collected and disposed of in the
Joaquin Enriquez stadium and along Cawa-Cawa shoreline. "Our aim is to
help those who have lost everything regain control of their lives,"
said Mr Gleed.
Water, health care and livelihoods in Mindanao and the Visayas
In several remote areas of
Mindanao and the Visayas, displaced and resident communities already
living in poverty are struggling to cope with the added burden of
violence and lack of security.
"Communities often rely on
farming for survival, so we work with them to implement sustainable
projects and improve crop yields," said Alan Colja, the ICRC’s
economic security coordinator in the Philippines. "Our approach is to
allow communities to identify their own needs and priorities."
"For example, when a
conflict-stricken community in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, recently
decided that it wanted to boost incomes by expanding its cut-flower
business, the ICRC helped it set up a small cut-flower nursery and
provided advice on increasing production."
In recent months, nearly
20,000 people in the upland municipalities of Magpet and Midsayap, in
North Cotabato and Lope de Vega and Las Navas, in Northern Samar,
received a variety of seed, farming tools, and training to increase
In addition to rebuilding
livelihoods, the ICRC works to improve access to potable water and
health care in isolated villages. Essential services can be seriously
disrupted by lack of security, often because infrastructure falls into
disrepair and vital supplies are not delivered. Where the quality of
water has deteriorated, as it has for the 2,000 residents of Marcelo
village in Negros Occidental province, ICRC engineers upgrade water
supply systems and sanitary facilities.
To ensure that patients from
all sides of the fighting with weapon-caused injuries receive the
medical attention they require, the ICRC provides two hospitals in
conflict-prone areas of Mindanao with medical supplies, as well as ad
hoc financial support. The ICRC also supports the only centre in
Mindanao providing artificial limbs and other devices for the
physically disabled, with 12 patients fitted this year.