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World | National

DAY 17 | UN declares Zamboanga situation a 'humanitarian crisis'
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Seventeen days since a foray by the Moro National Liberation Front into Zamboanga City triggered a deadly standoff between the rebels and government forces, the United Nations has officially declared the situation there a “humanitarian crisis.”

“We are increasingly alarmed by the situation and the growing needs of people caught up with violence,” United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, Luiza Carvalho, said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We are particularly concerned for the most vulnerable, especially the well-being of women and children.”

The UN said the fighting has displaced over 109,000 persons in Zamboanga and another 19,000 in nearby Basilan province, and destroyed over 10,000 homes.

Authorities estimate the death toll from more than two weeks of violence at close to 140 with more than 200 others wounded.

“People are struggling to survive with around 70,000 staying in the main sports complex in Zamboanga City, in desperately overcrowded conditions and insufficient sanitation facilities,” the UN said. “There is a real risk of a disease outbreak with food, drinking water, health services, cooking utensils, tents and other necessities required.”

Carvalho stressed the importance of “timely and targeted aid for the displaced, many of whom have lost their homes and livelihood.”

 “We are particularly concerned that aid is delivered in an impartial manner, with the needs of the most vulnerable met and those outside the evacuation centers not forgotten,” she said even as she acknowledged government efforts to respond to the needs of those affected by the crisis.

Carvalgo also called on “all parties to uphold the principles of impartiality, humanity, neutrality and independence, enshrined in International Humanitarian Law.”

“We expect that all humanitarian workers providing support to the victims of this conflict are protected and respected, and their safety is ensured by all actors,” she added.