AFTER successfully entering war-torn Marawi City, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) yesterday called on both government troops and members of the Maute group to spare civilians from the ongoing hostilities.
In a statement, ICRC Head of Delegation in the Philippines Pascal Porchet urged both sides to take the necessary precautions to spare civilians and their properties.
"International humanitarian law (IHL) remains applicable in this situation, even after the declaration of martial law in Mindanao," said Porchet.
"As such, it must be respected at all times and by all the parties. People who may be arrested must be treated humanely and the ICRC will continue to monitor their conditions and treatment,” he furthered.
The ICRC official noted how the IHL limits the means and methods of warfare and protects people who do not take part in the fighting (i.e civilians, medics, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (i.e. wounded, sick, captured or detained fighters).
"These limits are particularly meaningful in populated areas, where the risk of harm to civilians and civilian objects, including essential infrastructure, increases," pointed Porchet.
Last Tuesday, clashes erupted between the government forces and members of the Islamic State-linked Maute terror group in Marawi City.
The clashes reportedly led to several casualties as well as the burning and occupying of several establishments, and taking of several hostages by the local terror group.
The clashes in Marawi has prompted President Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao island and shall stay in effect for 60 days.
Meanwhile, the international humanitarian organization bared that their team was finally able to enter Marawi City last Friday.
Still, Porchet noted how it is currently a challenge for Red Cross teams on the ground in assessing the situation in a bid to have a clear picture of the number of displaced people and their need.
“The situation is very fluid. Residents are moving in and out of Marawi, and we are seriously concerned about those who are trapped or have chosen to stay in the city, who are in need of food and water," said the Red Cross official.
Nevertheless, Porchet said they were able to deliver 1,000 water jugs to the displaced families at the provincial capitol, and transported at least 300 residents from Marawi to the evacuation center in Saguiaran.
In addition, ICRC said it has prepositioned medical supplies, such as basic medicines, antibiotics, dressing materials as well as injectable medication and intravenous fluids, in a bid to address the basic health needs of up to 30,000 displaced people that is good for three months.
Finally, Porchet said food, essential household items, and hygiene kits are also set to be dispatched to Iligan City from the ICRC warehouse in Davao City. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)