Conflicts, Human-Rights Abuses Displace 100,000, Mostly in Mindanao

Apr. 03, 2007

The Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has released a report that says an estimated 100,000 people were displaced from their homes in the Philippines due to armed conflicts and human-rights violations. The main displacement movements occurred in Mindanao, the report said.

Below is the IDMC’s report on the Philippines, taken from the center’s website.

Executive summary

An estimated 100,000 people were displaced from their homes in the Philippines during 2006 as a result of armed conflict and human right abuses. The main displacement movements occurred in the southernmost island of Mindanao where, in two separate incidents, close to 70,000 people were forced from their homes in Maguindanao province following clashes between Muslim separatist rebels and security forces. In addition to these new displacements, which have been mainly temporary, tens of thousands of people in Mindanao remain unable to return or are living in situations akin to displacement due to previous conflicts. Due to the fluidity of the displacement situation, with frequent clashes and short-term displacement movements, there are no accurate figures available on the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs). In July 2006, WFP launched an emergency food operation and estimated the number of vulnerable IDPs at 120,000.

The majority of the displaced are living in the Muslim-populated areas of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where most of the fighting between the government and insurgents of the MILF secessionist group has concentrated in the past few years and forced close to two million people from their homes since 2000. Under-development and the destruction caused by years of fighting have further impoverished an already disadvantaged population, with the displaced particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, health risks and unemployment. The needs of IDPs are generally addressed as part of wider development and rehabilitation programmes conducted by the government in partnership with the United Nations and donor countries and institutions. Sporadic skirmishes between the government forces and the MILF rebels and territorial issues have continued to block the signing of a peace agreement during 2006, while also obstructing the implementation of programmes aimed at rehabilitating and developing the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. Focusing largely on a developmental approach, the international aid community needs to pay more attention to protection and human rights issues, which are particularly at risk in the context of the governments war on terror.

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