Thousands of civilians affected by fighting in Basilan province
BASILAN - Nearly 7,000 people have been displaced for more than a month following armed clashes between security forces and Abu Sayyaf rebels in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, the International Committee of the Red Cross or ICRC said.
It said affected families left their homes and sources of livelihood after the hostilities started in November. Civilians in six villages in the conflict-affected municipalities of Al-barka and Tuburan chose to stay with relatives or in evacuation centers for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
To support their needs, the ICRC said it provided food rations and hygiene items recently for the affected families in Albarka and Tuburan, with the support of the Philippine Red Cross or PRC in Basilan.
"The ICRC’S distribution is in response to their basic needs for food,” said Nezar Tamine, deputy head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mindanao.
Tamine said each family received 25 kilos of rice, 2 liters of oil, 1 kilo of sugar, one-half kilo of salt, 12 tins of sardines, 1 liter of soy sauce, and a hygiene kit containing shampoo, bath and laundry soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
In July, the ICRC through the PRC also pro- vided essential household items and hygiene kits to 17,000 displaced people in Tipo-tipo, Al-barka and Ungkaya Pukan municipalities. And just recently, the ICRC arranged for 12 emergency health kits to be delivered to hospitals and rural health units in Sulu and Basilan provinces to support the medical needs of the affected civilians. These kits contain dressing materials to treat the wounded.
Together with the PRC in Zamboanga City, some 113 health workers from six rural health units of Basilan were trained on first aid and basic life support from August to October to boost the capacity and readiness of health workers and the community to help save lives during armed fighting and other emergencies.
The ICRC also reminded all parties to the armed conflict about the need to protect civilians and those who are not or no longer participating in the hostilities.