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Mindanao humanitarian needs real–Oxfam

UK aid agency disputes Palace denial of crisis

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:36am (Mla time) 09/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Hunger and disease stalk makeshift camps for people forced out of their homes in the current fighting in Mindanao and mothers risk getting caught in the crossfire so they can go back to their war-torn villages to get food to feed their children.

This grim condition of thousands of people displaced by the month-long fighting between government forces and recalcitrant commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was reported by the respected British charity Oxfam in a statement Thursday.

Lan Mercado, country director of Oxfam, disputed claims by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday that there was no humanitarian crisis in Mindanao and that the situation there was “not that bad.”

“The humanitarian needs in Mindanao are real. The armed conflict has caused suffering for civilians and worsened their experience of poverty,” Mercado said.

“Government and other civil society agencies are doing what we can but, at the same time, we continue to see evacuees who go hungry at shelters, contract diseases, and worry for their future. Civilians live in fear for their safety and lives because of the presence of armed groups in their villages. Children have also stopped going to school,” she said.

“Aid from government and NGOs alike will not meet all the needs if more and more civilians get mired in the conflict. It is important that state and non-state authorities who have the responsibility to protect civilians affected by the conflict recognize and put their rights and immediate needs front and center,” Mercado said.

Read the rest on Philippine Daily Inquirer website.
– Mothers risk life and limb
– UN Appeals for Fund
– DSWD aid insufficient

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