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Plan responds to needs of families displaced by conflict in the Philippines

Internally displaced children living in the Philippines
Internally displaced children living in the Philippines
August 28, 2012

Plan is launching an emergency response to help 10,000 people forced from their homes by armed conflict that broke out in southern Mindanao in the Philippines.

A local NGO, Mindanao Tulong Bakwit, is partnering with Plan to provide hygiene and water kits to improve the health of internally displaced people (IDPs), including 3,500 children, currently living in evacuation shelters in Maguindanao and North Cotabato municipalities.

Plan will also provide emotional support for people, mainly children, who have been affected by the recent fighting. More than 50,000 people from Maguindanao and North Cotabato have been displaced, with children under 10 years old accounting for one-third of those in evacuation shelters.

“Children are particularly vulnerable during emergencies and their specific needs must be considered by the humanitarian community,” said Carin van de Hor, country director of Plan Philippines.

Many displaced people have fallen sick and evacuation shelters have reported shortage of food and water.

“Health is one of the first casualties in any conflict,” said Dr. Unni Krishnan, Plan’s Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness. “Health care and protection should be a top priority for displaced children and women living in camps, as conflict situations amplify their vulnerability.”

Plan has experience of responding to children’s need in conflict in the Philippines in the past.

“The organization’s experience shows that addressing the life saving and psychological needs of children should go hand in hand as conflicts often escalate the level of anxiety and stress,” said Ms. van der Hor.

The conflict in Mindanao first broke out around midnight on August 5th when members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) launched attacks on military outposts in five towns in Maguindanao. According to news reports, the fighting resulted in destruction of power lines and key highways became out of action.

Although recent attacks have been sporadic, they have caused significant impact to the local communities where the number of displaced people and their needs have been growing rapidly.

Plan will carry out further needs assessments to determine if the relief effort needs to be scaled up and to understand the long-term needs of displaced people, including children specific needs such as education and protection.

Plan currently has two short-term projects in Mindanao: the on-going disaster response project for people affected by Tropical Storm Washi, started in late 2011, and a project on registration work related to the issue of child soldiers in Central Mindanao.

Learn more about Plan's work in the Philippines

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