Humanitarian Situation in Mindanao (March 22, 2019) - Armed Clashes Displace 50,000 People

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22 March 2019 Clashes between the forces of the Philippine government and various non-state armed groups over the last several weeks in Mindanao have displaced around 50,000 people in the provinces of Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao. According to reports, the clashes also caused casualties and injuries among parties to the conflict, but also among the civilians. The ICRC teams from different offices on the ground have been assessing the humanitarian needs on the ground, and have started to provide direct response, working in coordination with other actors, notably the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).


More than 1,800 families (9,000 people) were displaced since last week due to fighting between the Philippine military and Islamic State Ranao (also known as Maute group) near Tubaran and Pagayawan. Majority of the displaced families fled to nearby evacuation centers, while some sought shelter with relatives ("home-based") around Marogong. Living conditions are difficult for those in evacuation centers due to limited access to water and sanitary facilities, and food supply is not sufficient. The ICRC, which has access to this remote and complex area, stepped in to distribute half-month food rations, household and hygiene items to around 6,500 displaced people in Tubaran and Pagayawan, with the PRC. It has assisted rural health units in Tubaran and Pagayawan with essential medicines, supplies and equipment and is also building emergency toilets in the main evacuation centers. The aid to displaced people in Marogong and Binidayan will follow next week.


Around 180 families from Sitio Pandarasdasan and Cawayan have been displaced in evacuation centers in San Fernando and Malaybalay in Bukidnon since mid to end February. These residents fled their homes due to clashes in their villages. Living conditions are dire for the evacuees who sleep on the floor without mats and blankets. Access to water and sanitation facilities are constrained. The provincial government provided food supplies in early March but it may not be sufficient if the displacement continues. After conducting an assessment, the ICRC distributed essential household items to more than 650 displaced people in San Fernando and Malaybalay.


Since the end of February, the government forces have engaged with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) located across Salbu-Pagatin-Mamasapano-Shariff Aguak or the "SPMS box" and the adjacent marshlands in Maguindanao. Sustained fighting intensified at the beginning of March, forcing around 39,600 people out of their homes, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The ICRC conducted field assessments and is set to provide food and household items to around 4,250 displaced people in Datu Saudi, Datu Unsay and Shariff Aguak. Two major hospitals and seven rural health units are getting medicines and medical supplies, and when access is safe, interventions will be done for improved access to water and sanitation.