Humanitarian assistance needed for children caught in armed conflict


Date:  2013-09-11

By Noel T. Tarrazona
Philippine correspondent for ASSIST News Service

ZAMBOANGA CITY, PHILIPPINES (ANS) -- Close to 13,000 evacuees including women and children are suffering from hunger, non-access to water and trauma when 300 MNLF rebels stormed Zamboanga City on Monday to engage in a violent firefight with Philippine soldiers.

Despite the violent crossfire, Moslem and Christian children sleep under one roof hoping one day that there will be peace in their village. They maintained their smile in the midst of crossfire

As of today, the government already reported 11 killed in action, 36 wounded and around 80 civilian hostages being held by the rebels. The Philippine and local governments have not announced what action to take to end the crisis and the 3-day standoff remain stalemate but however condemned the violence.

ASSIST Correspondent Noel Tarrazona plays basketball with children-evacuees who were caught in the crossfire between Philippine troops and MNLF rebels. Basketball is the best post conflict trauma therapy for children

Most evacuees have not eaten since the firefight broke out and children and infants were reportedly developing fever. A post armed conflict therapy management is also needed for children. Since the crisis broke out, most pharmacies and grocery shops were closed and most residents are having difficulty to buy food.

This reporter saw a five month old infant in one of the evacuation centers who could hardly breathe. Some children in the evacuation center remain in trauma when they personally saw armed rebels in their vicinity last Monday.

Noel with some others sheltering
from the violence

The MNLF leadership declared for Bangsamoro Independence a few weeks ago and no one knew that that their independence declaration will lead to the occupation of rebels in this strategic city.

Three well known pastors in this battle-torn City called a popular radio station yesterday and prayed publicly on the air for peaceful resolution of the crisis. They are Pastor Ritchie Llanto of Every Nation Church, Lea Calisang of Foursquare Gospel and lawyer-turned Pastor Paul Ersando of Zion Evangelical Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

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