WHO gives emergency assistance to southern Philippine refugees
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday it will provide 15 million pesos (321,199 dollars) in emergency health assistance to people displaced by nearly two months of fighting in the strife-torn southern Philippines, dpa reported.
WHO said the amount will cover three months of emergency health assistance to thousands of people displaced by the fighting between government troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the southern region of Mindanao.
The United Nations health body said some 65,473 people are still living in some 104 evacuation centres in several provinces where fighting continues.
"Evacuees are vulnerable to diseases such as diarrhoea and respiratory tract infection that may be acquired because of crowding and less than ideal environmental conditions in temporary shelters," said Soe Nyunt-U, WHO representative to the Philippines
"Outbreaks may even aggravate the current situations and result in increased morbidity and mortality," said Soe Nyunt-U. "We have to make sure that essential health services, especially for pregnant women, children, adolescents and the elderly, are available."
Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres, a military spokesman, said government troops expect more clashes with the MILF as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan ended Wednesday.
More than 200 people have been killed in the clashes which erupted in early August after MILF rebels seized villages and attacked towns in Mindanao.
The MILF attacks occurred after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of a territory deal that would have expanded the existing Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.
President Gloria Arroyo dissolved the government peace panel negotiating with the MILF. She vowed not to resume the negotiations until those responsible for the attacks are brought to justice.