Thousands displaced by worsening conflict in the Philippines
Handicap International is increasingly concerned for the welfare of tens of thousands of displaced people in the southern Philippines. Since armed conflict broke out in Marawi city, Mindanao, on 23rd May 2017, at least 360,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. Many are now living in precarious conditions.
Evacuation centre, Lanao del Notre, Philippines | © Handicap International
Poor access to humanitarian assistance
Some families fleeing from the conflict have sought refuge in evacuation centres, whilst others are living in towns and villages amongst the local population. Handicap International (HI) has observed that the limited humanitarian assistance reaching the area is not adequately adapted for vulnerable people.
“People with disabilities, for example, are living in centres where they are unable to use showers and toilets because there are no ramps or handrails.” explains Gilles Nouziès, HI Desk Officer for the Philippines.
“Vulnerable people living outside of evacuation centres in particular are not receiving enough assistance, including food, and most are unable to work or to go to school. This creates a very high risk situation”.
HI is seeking funding to help the most vulnerable people affected by this crisis, both with their immediate needs and in the longer term. Our activities will include the provision of cash grants to ensure that all displaced people can access enough food, hygiene and shelter items.
HI is also very concerned about the threat posed by unexploded ordinance in and around Marawi. After months of heavy fighting, some areas are densely contaminated with dangerous remnants of war and improvised explosive devices.
It is essential that people who plan to return to the area after the fighting are made aware of the risks. HI plans to launch activities to teach children and adults how to identify and avoid objects that may be dangerous in order to reduce the risk of injury or death.
HI in the Philippines
Handicap International began operations in the Philippines for the first time in 1985. Since development in the Philippines is highly unequal, HI’s strategy focuses on the poorest areas of the country where the population is most exposed to disaster and conflict and which lack adequate public services.