MANILA, Philippines -- At least 66 people have died from the ongoing conflict in Mindanao, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said.
In its latest report, the NDCC said four soldiers were killed in the fighting with the rest tallied as civilian casualties.
The report also said 79 people have been injured in the conflict, 66 civilians and 13 law enforcers.
The NDCC added that the number of affected families who have either lost their houses, displaced or have lost their livelihood have shot up from 88,243 families to 100,024 families or 479,223 persons.
The number of evacuees sheltering in evacuation centers has also shot up from 18,080 families (89,024 persons) to 22,861 families (111,133 persons), the NDCC added.
The NDCC also denied reports of a "food blockade" after a United Nations convoy of relief goods were barred to enter Poona Piagapo, Tangkal and Munai in Delabayan, Kauswagan on August 28.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines clarified that the convoy was not allowed to enter for "security reasons" and was allowed to proceed the following day with the help of the local government and Peace Advocates from Iligan City.
The NDCC also advised humanitarian aid workers to coordinate with the regional office of civil defense.
Continuous assistance to displaced civilians is being undertaken through government cluster leads, disaster coordinating councils and concerned local government units, the NDCC added in its report.
Total assistance being provided by the NDCC and partner organizations like local and international non-government organizations have reached P51.77 million.
The USAID has also provided an additional $100,000 to Save the Children under the Mindanao Emergency Response Network.
Health surveillance systems have been intensified and vaccination in evacuation centers have been conducted following a surge in reported cases of measles and mumps.
Medical consultations in Munai and Matungao are being conducted by local health personnel, the NDCC added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has indicated that they were ready to assist displaced evacuees living with their relatives and friends so long as a signed master list would be provided by local chief executives.
The DSWD in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has also suggested that "bunk houses" be constructed as temporary shelter for displaced families and that the Department of Public Works and Highways help in the construction of these buildings.
The Office of Civil Defense in Region 10 also recommended that displaced families in the municipalities of Poona Piagapo, Tangkal and Munai be evacuated to Delabayan, Kauswagan and other coastal areas "where they can be served better."
But evacuees refused the offer for security reasons and for fear of "possible reprisal" from Christians, the NDCC added.
The OCD Region 10 has also expressed urgency to "decongest" the evacuations centers in Lanao del Norte since an increase in acute respiratory infections has been reported.
The NDCC added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines should also help in ensuring the safe entry of workers from the Department of Health and other health sectors to provide treatment and implement other disease control mechanisms.
There is also a need for rice and medicine augmentation in evacuation centers and assistance to refugees in terms of livelihood, crops and livestock rehabilitation, the NDCC added.
The DepEd has also raised concern on the effects to students of the indefinite suspension of classes due to the damages to school buildings and the use of some buildings as evacuation centers.
Classes are still suspended in schools in Kauswagan and Lanao del Norte provinces and also in Barangay (villages) Tingin-tingin, Baraason, Dilabayan, Kayontor and Paiton.
The DepEd is still assessing and validating damages in other provinces.