Int’l refugee group concerned about Zamboanga evictions, criticized officials

By , on December 18, 2014

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MANILA – Refugees International (RI) expressed their utmost concern for the evictees in Zamboanga saying that the local officials are just putting lives at risk by moving people to camps where “humanitarian conditions are appalling.”

Witnesses claimed that police officials went to the Zamboanga Sports Complex and destroyed the shelters of about 10,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who lived there to avoid iolence in their home neighbourhoods. The police asked them forcibly to move to Mampang transitional site located on the town’s borders.

According to RI, the said site is already home to 4,000 people who are complaining of lack of water, sanitation, health, and educational facilities.

Last week, the IDP families at the Sports Complex protested against the city’s plan of relocatingthem to Mampang. Many of them prefer to live in the Sports Complex because of its accessibility to schools and jobs.

“If this campaign of evictions goes forward, the population of the Mampang site will nearly triple, and the shortages of lifesaving aid and services will only get worse,” said Alice Thomas, RI’s Climate Displacement program manager.

She added, “Many humanitarian actors question whether the city government’s actions are legal. But legal or not, it is deeply irresponsible to force people into a camp where basic humanitarian standards will not be met.”

RI, in its latest report titled “Philippines: Displaced and Forgotten in Zamboanga,” it insisted the United Nations and other governments to provide lifesaving resources to Zamboanga

Moreover, RI is also urging the Philippine government not to force IDPs to move to sites where they are not comfortable or sites not suited for their needs.