Thursday, March 18, 2010

Continuing trouble for Mindanao

Twitter notified me of this article about Mindanao, which is sadly unsurprising.

..."We are still here because we're worried about safety," said one man in his 40s in a blue T-shirt, who like his neighbours fled the fighting between Muslim insurgents and government forces in 2008. "The government wants us to go home but MILF (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front) has not said it is safe to go back."

The story is the same in other roadside evacuation centres - the official term for camps for internally displaced people (IDP) - in Maguindanao, one of the provinces worst affected by the fighting in the southern region of Mindanao, which uprooted around 600,000 people, according to a report last May from the Norwegian Refugee Council. Globally, this displacement was the biggest in 2008, exceeding Sudan and Congo. ...

The average person on the street has heard about Sudan and Congo, but not many have heard about what's been happening in Mindanao for decades. I've been in the evacuation centres discussed in the article and they were terrible places: cramped, stinky, and no privacy for anyone. It's awful that so many people have had to live in such horrid conditions for so long, with few other options made available to them.

As the article says, there really isn't much hope for return anytime soon, as so many houses were destroyed during the fighting. I also spoke to people who'd tried to return to find soldiers camped out in their homes. And the related destruction of farming land is what will take the longest to recover. In an area where farming is a way of life, many families I spoke to were at a loss as to how they could possibly regain their lives without access to farm land.

Insha'allah the approaching elections are peaceful and don't further deteriorate the conditions for the people of ARMM.

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