In photo- IDP’s lining up for food ration being distributed by ICRC on September 5 and September 6

IDPs in Maguindanao town want to go home safe

COTABATO CITY – “Living in a tent is very difficult, especially when it rains. We have no choice but to endure it. My children are in elementary school but they haven’t been able to attend classes due to the armed clashes. I hope we can return home soon without any fear, and go back to normal life,” said Yahiya Alabay of Barangay Ganta in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town.

Yahiya’s family is among the 1,280 households (approximately 6,400 people) in barangays (villages) Ganta, Bakat, Inaladan and Dasawao in Shariff Saydona Mustapha, and Penditen in Datu Salibo town who collected ICRC food rations during the distribution held on Sept. 4 to 5.

With the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the ICRC’s operational partner, each family received two-week rations consisting of 25 kg of rice, 2 liters of cooking oil, 1 kg of sugar, ½ kg of salt, one litre of soy sauce and 12 tins of sardines.

After the clashes first broke out in March, the ICRC along with the PRC provided food, household, and hygiene items to around 6,700 displaced people in towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Shariff Aguak and Datu Salibo. 

From April to July, regular trucking of potable water was done for almost 5,500 people living in evacuation sites. Rural health units in eight Maguindanao towns and three hospitals were also supplied with medicines, and medical material to cater to over 11,000 people in April, and in August.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and extend our help based on the needs. Ultimately, we hope that these displaced families can safely return home to a stable life,” said Roberto Petronio, the interim head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Cotabato. 

The ICRC reported that thousands of families in Maguindanao province have been facing repeated and prolonged displacement for six months now due to the clashes between government forces and armed groups. 

“It’s the second time that thousands of families in Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Salibo towns have had to stay in cramped evacuation sites for over a month. They are afraid to return home as the situation there remains volatile,” said the ICRC teams from Cotabato that assessed the condition of the affected communities over the past few weeks, identifying the needs, and listening to their concerns.