In central and southern Mindanao in 2016, fighting between government forces and non-state armed groups forced about 78,000 people to flee their homes in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Sulu provinces. Prolonged displacement, on the other hand, affected communities in Surigao del Sur, devastating their shelters and livelihoods. In Zamboanga City, around 11,000 people still live in transitional sites for more than three years after the clashes.
In the second half of the year, the hostilities between government forces and the New People's Army (NPA) halted due to the ceasefire declarations linked with the restarted peace process. However, remote communities that were affected for decades by this protracted conflict still struggle against poverty and underdevelopment.
"In 2016, we managed to help 310,000 of conflict-affected civilians in difficult-to-reach areas such as Lanao del Sur and Basilan, with strong support from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC)," said Pascal Porchet, head of the ICRC delegation to the Philippines.
"This year, while we continue to assist displaced families, we will put an even stronger emphasis on the protection of civilians by enhancing our dialogue on international humanitarian law with all weapon bearers, the government, religious and community leaders," he added.
Helping people displaced by conflicts and violence
- Around 180,000 people displaced by armed clashes or violence in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Haran Compound in Davao City, or affected by drought in North Cotabato, received food and household items to help them cope with their situation.
- About 55,000 displaced people and residents in Maguindanao accessed safe water and sanitation facilities through ICRC projects in 13 evacuation centers.
- Around 68,000 people in southern Luzon, Northern Samar and Mindanao earned income through donations of vegetable seeds, tools, equipment or cash grants
- More than 37,200 people in southern Luzon and Mindanao received cash grants or joined cash-for-work projects that improved their communal facilities.
- Some 9,300 migrants returning from Malaysia received hygiene items from the ICRC through the PRC or the migrants' centers.
Caring for people wounded by conflict and violence
- More than 900 people wounded by weapons were treated in ICRC-supported health facilities in Mindanao. Among these, more than 90 patients received financial assistance while 41 patients benefited from PRC's blood services.
- In the ICRC-supported Davao Jubilee Foundation, 59 patients, including 52 people wounded in conflict, received financial aid for their physical rehabilitation. In addition, 8 amputees benefited from vocational training while 2 minors were given educational support.
- 7 hospitals in Mindanao were regularly supplied with medicines and medical materials, while 85 hospitals and health facilities received ad-hoc donations to cope with the influx of patients following clashes or emergencies.
- Ad-hoc medical supplies provided to local health facilities covered the needs of 7,000 displaced families in Sulu, Basilan and Lanao.
- Around 800 health staff and 500 community members were trained in first aid and basic life support by the ICRC, the PRC and local authorities.
Addressing jail congestion and its consequences
- Around 18,200 people were screened for tuberculosis (TB) in two ICRC pilot sites, the New Bilibid Prison and the Quezon City Jail. Through improved early TB-detection mechanisms, 999 inmates who had TB were identified and enrolled for treatment.
- Some 530 inmates in 3 jails experienced better living conditions after the renovation and construction of cooking stoves, water-supply systems, sanitation installations, ventilation facilities, and outdoor recreational areas.
- As part of our systemic support to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), we helped develop an e-learning project to train BJMP paralegals and a mobile application providing an early-warning system on jail emergencies. Quezon City Jail, one of the most critically overcrowded jails, was supported in the planning and design of its future jail facility.
Visiting people detained in relation to the conflict
- Inmates in 118 detention facilities were visited by ICRC staff who monitored their treatment and living conditions, focusing on more than 900 particularly vulnerable detainees.
- Around 400 detainees were visited by their relatives through the ICRC family visit program with support from the PRC.
- Detaining authorities received recommendations to improve detainees' treatment and living conditions, based on ICRC's multidisciplinary assessment of several severely congested jails.
Promoting international humanitarian law (IHL)
- More than 3,800 weapon bearers were educated on IHL, human rights, and humanitarian principles in armed conflict through dissemination sessions.
- Around 300 scholars, religious leaders, and members of Islamic institutions and armed groups learned more about IHL and Islamic law related to armed conflict in seminars held in Marawi City, Cotabato City, Maguindanao and Manila.
- The Philippine National Police Academy, the Philippine Public Safety College, and the UP Institute of Islamic Studies signed agreements with the ICRC to integrate IHL into their curriculum.
Enabling the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to respond to emergencies
- With support from Red Cross Movement partners, the ICRC trained and equipped volunteers of PRC Red Cross Action Teams (RCAT) in 16 priority areas to boost their capacities in emergency preparedness, reuniting families, providing first aid and disseminating humanitarian principles.
- Around 168 PRC volunteers (100 from RCAT) were mobilized for relief operations and livelihood support in conflict-affected communities in Mindanao.