Inside out

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Women, children most affected in Mindanao fighting–study

Posted by Abi Kwok on August 25, 2008

Inadequate relief cause ‘psychological trauma’

By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 12:01:00 08/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Women and children are most affected in the ongoing conflict in Mindanao as evacuation centers are lacking in facilities, adequate food, and medicines, and children continue to experience “psychological trauma,” a group said on Monday.

Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) executive director Ma. Esmeralda Macaspac also said that the continued military assault in Mindanao against the Moro rebels have been causing children to live in fear and have left a lot of families in a state of shock.

“On the first burst of gunfire, children and women immediately become the victims and thousands of families flee and lose their homes. As the fighting intensifies, there are more victims and the psychosocial wounds caused by the war deepen,” Macaspac said in Filipino.

Based on a field study conducted by the group on the villages of Batulawan and Pikit in the province of North Cotabato, Macaspac said “tremendous fear and anxiety” were being experienced by children in evacuation centers.

“Children are unable to sleep for fear that something might happen at night. They cannot eat well and of course, they are forced to stop schooling,” she said.

Apart from the “psychological trauma” children are experiencing, the evacuation centers are also lacking in medical facilities and food, Macaspac said.

“Oftentimes, children get hungry and sick because of inadequate food and decent homes. This is because government agencies are often not ready for these offensives, are unable to organize the evacuation of civilians, and could not ensure the welfare of the affected families, especially the children,” said Macaspac.

CRC data also revealed that as of this month, over 17,000 families in 56 villages have been displaced from the fighting. A good number of these include children and women.

As a result, Macaspac urged the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to call a ceasefire.

“It is irresponsible and the damage resulting from these indiscriminate bombings by the military would be much bigger because they do not distinguish the targets. As a result, residents become fearful and their lives are threatened because no one is spared from these bombings,” she said.


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