Philippines: Clan violence adds to displacement in Mindanao
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||10 August 2010|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Philippines: Clan violence adds to displacement in Mindanao, 10 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c64f10ac.html [accessed 23 April 2014]|
MANILA, 10 August 2010 (IRIN) - Clan violence is taking its toll on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, resulting in the death and injury of civilians, destruction of property and further displacement of thousands, aid workers say.
"The humanitarian community in Mindanao is highly concerned by the increasing number of inter-clan feuds, known locally as 'ridos'," Nick Horne, head of the sub-office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told IRIN from Cotabato City.
A recent increase in Rido-related conflicts has occurred across the region, mostly in the western Maguindanao Province, including the municipalities of Sultan sa Barongis, Rajah Buayan, South Upi, Ampatuan, Datu Blah Sinsuat, and Datu Montawa, an OCHA situation report stated on 9 August, as well as in Lebak of Sultan Kudarat Province, and Mapoling and Butig in Lanao del Sur Province.
"Ridos are provoking the displacement of local populations affected by the increasing violence," Alberto Marcos, head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland (MSF), confirmed.
According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), more than 25,000 people, mostly in Maguindanao, have been displaced over the past two months alone, mostly triggered by land disputes and longstanding family feuds.
While the vast majority have since returned to their homes, there is growing concern over how this latest wave of violence will affect overall displacement figures on the island as well as programme activities in the area, says OCHA.
"We see children harmed both physically and mentally, from exposure to this violence," said Vanessa Tobin, country representative for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Meanwhile, more than 67,000 people remain displaced by fighting between government forces and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who have been fighting for an ancestral homeland for decades. These internally displaced persons (IDPs) are now living in 57 evacuation centres.
Fighting between the two sides re-ignited in August 2008, when the Supreme Court overturned a proposed deal that would have given the 12,000-strong MILF control over large areas of the southern Philippines they claim as ancestral land.
More than 600,000 people were evacuated at the height of the fighting, which also destroyed entire villages and left hundreds dead on both sides.
Peace in jeopardy
"The peace process may be seriously jeopardized by current ridos, which could be used as an ignition point for an escalation of hostilities," MSF's Marcos warned.
Agencies are concerned about access, as well as how best to respond. Those displaced by ridos are not considered "real IDPs" by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and therefore do not receive regular assistance from government services.
While humanitarian agencies help families displaced by the 2008 conflict, in most cases they do not do so for those affected by ridos.
"It has not always been possible to reach the displaced, and this is equally the case for other agencies active in Central Mindanao," said Christoph Sutter, deputy head of delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) .
"Humanitarian space remains fragile because of instability and unclear horizons with regard to the peace process," Marcos said.
Aid agencies are the only ones able to provide independent services without being caught in political issues on the ground, the MSF official said, noting, however, that most agencies were reluctant to get involved because of insecurity in the area and the risk of being manipulated by the rido factions.
According to local authorities, 5,500 people have died in rido-related cases over the past three decades - equivalent to about 183 deaths per year.