Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - The Philippines

Number of IDPsAt least 1,200
Percentage of total populationUndetermined
Start of displacement situation2008
Peak number of IDPs (year)600,000 (2008)
New displacement in 2012178,000 reported
Causes of displacementx International armed conflict
✓ Internal armed conflict
✓ Deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement
✓ Communal violence
✓ Criminal violence
✓ Political violence
Human development index114

An estimated 178,000 people were displaced by conflict and violence during 2012 in Mindanao in the southern Philippines, where the government has been fighting insurgent groups since the 1970s. For most, displacement was short-lived, and only a few thousand people were unable to return by the end of the year.

Armed clashes between the government and Muslim insurgents and violence between local clans were the main causes of displacement, which took place primarily in the Muslim-majority provinces of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Clashes between government forces and communist rebels of the New People's Army (NPA) also forced people to flee their homes, in most cases in resource-rich indigenous territories in northern and eastern Mindanao.

Disasters are also major causes of displacement in Mindanao, affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year and often making groups already displaced by conflict and violence more vulnerable. Almost exactly a year after tropical storm Sendong devastated the northern cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, typhoon Pablo struck eastern Mindanao in December 2012, killing more than 1,000 people, displacing nearly a million and affecting more than six million. The impact of both storms was made worse by environmental degradation caused by poorly regulated mining and logging activities.

IDPs and returnees in Mindanao tend to live in insecure environments prone to violence and where the rule of law is often absent. They are exposed to a range of threats, including abuses by armed groups, unexploded ordnance and gender-based violence. Military operations and counter-insurgency tactics sometimes restrict IDPs' rights, including their freedom of movement and access to food and livelihoods. Poverty is a key driver of onward migration, with people who lost their assets and livelihoods in their initial displacement forced to move again in search of work. This increases IDPs' vulnerability. Children in particular have to drop out of school, and they face a significant risk of falling prey to human traffickers or being recruited into armed groups.

The cycle of violence and displacement in many areas in Mindanao tends to have long-lasting effects, and displacement generally does not end when IDPs return. An assessment conducted in September 2012 in 33 municipalities across Mindanao identified more than 500,000 people, mainly IDPs and returnees, who still needed humanitarian and recovery assistance. Nearly half had been affected by armed conflict and most were located in Maguindanao, the province by far the hardest-hit.

Three out of four households in Maguindanao have fled twice or more in the past ten years. Many of those who returned to the province following the end of the 2008 to 2009 conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have struggled to access basic services and re-establish their livelihoods, the result both of recurrent flooding and sporadic fighting, mainly caused by clan feuds. Most received no assistance when they returned.

The government and its international partners have made significant efforts to address IDPs' immediate humanitarian needs, but a lack of funding has often undermined the effectiveness of early recovery and rehabilitation programmes. Assistance has also been hampered by weak institutions, poor capacity and a lack of downward accountability by local authorities.

In October 2012, the government and MILF signed a framework agreement which provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new political entity to replace ARMM by 2016. This represents a chance to end the conflict and address the underlying causes of displacement.

Efforts to develop new legislation on displacement progressed well during the year, and in February 2013 congress enacted the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act. Under the new law, which provides for the protection and assistance of people displaced by both conflict and natural disasters, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) becomes the government's institutional focal point for IDPs.

At the end of 2012, the UN requested a total of $100 million to fund its humanitarian and recovery programmes in Mindanao in 2013. Of the total, a third is to support its continuing operations in central Mindanao and the rest is to respond to the humanitarian needs arising from typhoon Pablo.

The UN will continue to support efforts to assist people affected by conflict and disaster in 2013, and it will also seek to strengthen its collaboration with the government and the humanitarian and development communities with the longer term aim of stabilising conflict-affected areas and facilitating durable solutions for IDPs.


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