AN overwhelming sentiment against aerial bombings, government neglect, and military rule dominates the findings of the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission held on June 13-15 in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur.
“We are presenting a concrete face of martial law,” said Aida Ibrahim, spokesperson of Kalinaw Mindanao, the network organizing the mission. “This is not an abstract declaration on paper, not a simple discussion of legal bases and opinions. This is martial law on the ground--the effects on the civilian populations, not mere arbitrary arguments.”
The mission had four components--medical mission, distribution of relief packs, psychosocial interventions, and case documentation.
“Even with the declaration of martial law, there are basic rights that have to be respected,” said Fr. Christopher Ablon of Karapatan–Northern Mindanao Region. Karapatan has documented several cases, including grave disrespect for Muslim practices and traditions during this sacred time of Ramadan.
The pyschosocial activities also showed possible symptoms of trauma in children, some of them still unable to sleep or showing altered behaviors. The medical mission team listed gastritis, colds, cough, and diarrhea as among the common diseases in the evacuation centers, most of them a result of the conflict.
Members of the delegation tried to serve the evacuation camp at the Capitol grounds in Marawi City, but were barred from entering by the military, which said that the evacuation center there did not need humanitarian interventions.
The mission served three evacuation centers in Iligan City, one evacuation center in Balo-I, Lanao del Norte, and four centers in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur.
“More than just asking for a continued support through relief operations, we believe that there has to be further investigations and documentation on the crisis,” said Ibrahim. “The effect on the civilian population is immense. What they need are not simple relief packs. They need their voices to be heard. And they are calling for a stop to the aerial bombardment, indemnification for their damaged homes and livelihoods, and justice for their communities.”--Suara Bangsamoro
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on June 19, 2017.
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