Red Cross to armed groups: Spare civilians from lumad crisis

THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called Friday on armed groups to spare the civilians in the ongoing crisis in Surigao del Sur regardless of the ethnic group they belong to.

In a statement, the ICRC said they are hoping that the civilians will not be embroiled in the crisis allegedly initiated by the military-backed militia group, Bagani/Magahat.

"The ICRC reminds all parties to the armed violence of the need to respect human life and dignity at all times. Civilians – regardless of their religion, ethnic group, gender or political beliefs – and their property must be spared from the violence," said Timothy Yates, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mindanao.

Close to 3,000 lumad refugees from hinterland villages in Surigao del Sur were recently forced to evacuate from their communities due to the series of atrocities committed by the paramilitary group.

The refugee families were then forced to evacuate at the sports center of Tandag City, Surigao del Sur to escape the threats.

"Armed violence often results in the displacement of civilians, including women and children. Away from their homes, they must subsist in fear and uncertainty. We hope that normality will soon return to the areas allowing the displaced families to go back to their homes," said Yates.

In the meantime, the ICRC, along with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), said the evacuees are already being provided relief assistance.

The ICRC said they have distributed household items, such as jerrycans, blankets and sleeping mats, and hygiene kits to help ease the plight of evacuees.

On the other hand, the PRC has also put up a soup kitchen to serve hot meals to evacuees once a day.

The ICRC is a neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian organization with a mandate to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. (HDT/Sunnex)

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