Philippines: senior UN official calls for end to violence, urges opening of humanitarian corridor

Black smoke from burning houses rises in the background as a military cargo plane bearing relief goods arrives in the besieged city of Zamboanga in Mindanao, Philippines on 12 September 2013. Photo: IRIN

13 September 2013 – A senior United Nations official in the Philippines, on behalf of the UN humanitarian team and its partners, today called for an immediate end to the latest violence and said the team is ready to support the Government in delivering humanitarian aid to people affected by the armed clashes.

In a statement released today from Manila, Humanitarian Coordinator Luiza Carvalho also appealed for the “safe passage of civilians caught in the crossfire”.

Armed clashes, which erupted on Monday between Government forces and non-State actors caused more than 16,000 people to seek refuge in 20 evacuation centres across Zamboanga City, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) said.

An estimated 136,000 people are affected by violence, including an unknown number trapped in coastal villages unable to reach evacuation centres in the city, the UN’s relief arm said.

Five people have died in the fighting so far, including four civilians, and 37 people are injured, according to cited figures.

All schools and almost all shops are closed, with only essential Government offices open. A curfew is in place from 2000hrs to 0500hrs.

“I urge all parties involved to respect and protect the rights of the civilian population, provide special attention to women and children and avoid unnecessary human suffering by reaching agreement to end the standoff,” Ms. Carvalho urged.

The UN has said it is ready to support Government efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and to alleviate the humanitarian needs of the civilian population affected by the armed clashes in the City of Zamboanga.

The Government and humanitarian partners have provided food packs, tents and non-food items and a mobile storage unit. An emergency hospital facility was established by the Government for the displaced.


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