Fighting between the Philippines military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have broken out in Mindanao on 10 August 2008. The peace talks in 2003 have effectively broken down.
The root cause of this renewed hostility apparently emerges out of the decision of the Philippine Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order impeding the signing of a peace treaty. As a consequence of this Supreme Court decision, Filipino President Gloria Arroyo dismantled the negotiating team to bring about a political resolution to the 30-year rebellion (since 1978) by the Mindanao insurgents.
The humanitarian angle of the crisis is worsening as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report at least half a million people have been affected by the conflict in Mindanao. Just from the period of 10 August 2008 till the first week of September 2008 alone, 130,000 people have fled their homes. Many left hastily, leaving their belongings behind, fleeing to evacuation zones.
ICRC’s (working with the Philippines National Red Cross) current capacity is being augmented to handle up to 325 000 till end of 2008. Aid provided included food and water supplies, evacuation shelters, household provisions and medical assistance. Medical assistance has been provided to 60,000 people thus far.
Space is also becoming constrained with tiny tents constructed out of palm leaves and plastic sheets, and the displaced are complaining from the cold. In addition, as refugees occupy schools acting temporary shelters, the kids cannot attend schooling as well.
Compounding the difficulties, the rainy season in Mindanao is about to begin. In addition, the period in which this conflict is happening is also sensitive as it is the religiously-important season of Ramadan and those celebrating it as doing in cold weather.
Many in the Philippines are hoping to draw more international media attention to this conflict to publicize the plight of the people.
Del Rosario, Albert, "Commentary - Philippines-US cooperation in Mindanao: A look-back" dated 10 September 2008 in the Philippines Inquirer website [downloaded on 12 September 2008], available at http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20080910-159870...
Schlein, Lisa, "Mindanao in Worst Conflict Since 2003" dated 7 September 2008 in VOAnews website [downloaded on 12 September 2008], available athttp://voanews.com/english/2008-09-07-voa8.cfm
Tupas, Jeffrey, "War over potable water looms in Davao" dated 6 September 2008 in the Philippines Inquirer [downloaded on 12 September 2008], available athttp://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20080906-159...