At least 93,000 have been displaced by ongoing operations by government troops against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mindanao, according a report by humanitarian groups.
Kawagib and Suara Bangsamoro said children are the most affected by the “all-out offensive” declared by the armed forces against Moro rebels following the botched counter-terror operations by elite cops in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in Jan. 25.
The groups said children are living with their parents at “congested evacuation centers” based on their inspection of barangays in Datu Saudi and Shariff Aguak from March 10 to 13.
“Some of them are suffering from chicken pox, rashes, coughs, colds and fever. Diarrhea is also common due to unsafe drinking water at the evacuation centers,” the report said.
The humanitarian groups have called on the government to stop the military offensive, as the operations “practically transformed civilian communities into a war zone.”
Another group, Anak Mindanao, reported that more than 2,000 pregnant women are at risk in the continuing war against the BIFF in Central Mindanao.
Anak Mindanao Rep. Sittie Djalia Hataman said while there are efforts by the Department of Health, the trauma of the continuing violence and the conditions of the evacuation centers might affect the health of both the mothers and the infants they are bearing.
In the latest update by the military, 116 members of the BIFF have been killed in Maguindanao.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen, Joselito Kakilala said six soldiers have been killed on the government side.
He said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been helping in the government operations.
“The best thing is that because of the help of the MILF in providing information as to the lairs of the bases and the supply routes of the BIFF, we were able to interdict these areas that resulted to our gains in neutralizing the BIFF as well as the reported terrorist groups,” Kakilala said.
The armed forces have claimed that three relatives of target terrorist Basit Usman were killed during the offensive in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town in Maguindanao. But authorities said the military was not able to recover the bodies of Usman’s relatives.