Civilian casualties feared in fight vs terror group
COTABATO CITY—The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed concern over the displacement of civilians by renewed hostilities in Mindanao.
The ICRC said “clashes between government security forces and armed groups in the Maguindanao province of Mindanao have continued into [their] fourth week, causing displacement and casualties.”
“We are worried about the fate of civilians caught in the fighting,” said Dominic Earnshaw, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato.
“We call on all parties to the conflict to strictly abide by the international humanitarian law,” he said.
The ICRC issued the statement of concern amid armed conflict resurging in a number of villages in the Maguindanao towns of Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, Datu Salibo, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Shariff Aguak and Mamasapano.
At least 20,000 residents have also fled Butig in Lanao del Sur province to seek shelter in nearby towns amid clashes and intense artillery fire as military operations against the so-called Maute extremist group continued.
The international humanitarian organization said it was also closely following the situation in Butig, including the humanitarian consequences of the fighting.
On Wednesday, outgoing Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. convened the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council into a Provincial Crisis Management Committee, to ensure the safety of civilians fleeing the sites of gunfights and the prompt distribution of relief to evacuees.
Earnshaw said he was appealing to soldiers and armed extremists to “avoid indiscriminate attacks that may harm civilians.”
“We are deeply alarmed by incidents involving roadside explosive devices that have resulted in injuries and deaths,” Earnshaw said.
“The ICRC will continue to monitor the situation of the affected population in order to identify any gaps in humanitarian assistance, in coordination with authorities and the Philippine Red Cross,” Earnshaw said. Nash Maulana, Inquirer Mindanao
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