By Charina Clarisse Echaluce
Finally, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was able to enter Marawi City and extend help to the residents.
“Our team has delivered 1,000 water jugs to the displaced families at the provincial capitol, and transported at least 300 residents from Marawi to the evacuation center in Saguiaran. We were able to access Marawi as we are in touch with various stakeholders,” said Pascal Porchet, head of delegation of the ICRC-Philippines.
Porchet said the international organization was very concerned about the people who are still trapped and the people who have chosen to stay in Marawi City.
“The situation is very fluid. Residents are moving in and out of Marawi, and we are seriously concerned about those who are trapped or have chosen to stay in the city, who are in need of food and water. This is currently a challenge for our teams on the ground,” he said
For the displaced people, on the other hand, the ICRC extended medical assistance as well as provided other necessities.
In the nearby Iligan, the ICRC has prepositioned medical supplies to reinforce the capacity of rural health units (RHU) in addressing the basic health needs of displaced people.
It also provided basic medicines, antibiotics, dressing materials; as well as injectable medication and intravenous fluids which can support 30,000 people in three months. One of these kits will be delivered to the RHU in Saguiaran this afternoon.
Medical items to treat wounded people have also been dispatched for hospitals that may need replenishment. Food, essential household items and hygiene kits will be delivered to Iligan from the ICRC warehouse in Davao.
Meanwhile, to support the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chapters in Marawi and Iligan, the ICRC also provided first-aid bags and dressing kits. It provided as well resources for the mobilization of PRC’s volunteer force in case a greater response is needed. The PRC and the ICRC will coordinate the response according to the needs.
Porchet urged those involved in the fighting to spare civilians and their property. “International humanitarian law (IHL) remains applicable in this situation, even after the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. As such, it must be respected at all times and by all the parties. People who may be arrested must be treated humanely and the ICRC will continue to monitor their conditions and treatment,” he said.
He explained that the IHL limits the means and methods of warfare and protects people who do not take part in the fighting (i.e civilians, medics, aid workers); and those who can no longer fight (i.e. wounded, sick, captured or detained fighters). These limits are particularly meaningful in populated areas where the risk of harm to civilians and civilian objects, including essential infrastructure, increases.
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