Civilians affected by clashes in Basilan
BASILAN - The International Committee of the Red Cross said armed fighting between security forces and rebel groups since last month has displaced some 3,400 families in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.
It said most of the affected families are in Tipo-tipo, Al-barka and Ungkaya Pukan municipalities who have sought refuge with their relatives after shelling and air strikes occurred on an almost daily basis over the past three weeks.
Casualties and injured fighters were reported on both sides, while a few civilians were also wounded as a consequence of the clashes.
“The security situation in Basilan is precarious. We are concerned for the civilians as we expect clashes to continue in the coming weeks,” said Yann Fridez, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation in Mindanao.
“We urge all parties to the fighting to exercise utmost precaution to minimize the impact or damage to civilian communities. We also ask them to spare civilian structures such as hospitals, schools and houses, and facilities that are essential for their daily lives,” he said.
To complement the assistance provided by the authorities, the ICRC, with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), distributed essential household items to more than 17,000 displaced people in the three municipalities. The items distributed by the PRC Basilan chapter on July 27-28 included hygiene kits, blankets, towels, jerry cans or water containers, mosquito nets and sleeping mats.
The ICRC said it also distributed dressing kits and medical supplies, including drugs and anti-tetanus vaccines, to enhance the capacity of rural health units in these three municipalities to treat sick and wounded people.
People displaced by the armed fighting in Basilan province line up to receive essential household items in these photos provided by ICRC to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.