In Pictures: Filipinos displaced from battles

Nearly a year after Muslim rebels stormed Zamboanga, more than 64,000 people remain displaced from their homes.

| | Poverty & Development, War & Conflict, Asia Pacific, Philippines, Armed groups

Zamboanga, Philippines - Last year, Muslim rebels stormed this southern Philippine city, engaging in a series of gun battles with soldiers that left 100 people dead and more than 80,000 people displaced.

In that incident that lasted from September 9, 2013 to early of October, more than a hundred people were held hostage by followers of Nur Misuari, the leader and founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which has occupied villages in Zamboanga.

The hostilities came weeks after Misuari declared independence of the southern region of Mindanao. His group signed a peace accord with the government in 1996, but the MNLF says the deal has not been fully implemented. Misuari is also opposed to the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MILF and the government are set to resume negotiations later this month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Nearly a year after the Zamboanga fighting, more than 64,000 people remain displaced from their homes, living in difficult conditions in an overcrowded evacuation centre. They are largely dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Worst, around 140 refugees have died inside a huge sports complex that was used to house tens of thousands of people who were displaced. Health officials confirmed a total of 143 deaths in the city's refuge center, covering from September 9 last year to August this year.

While progress has been made in relocating the displaced people to transitional sites, efforts must continue to ensure that services such as water and sanitation are provided before moving people, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Secretary Dinky Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development said the central government will relocate all the people staying at the sports complex before the year ends.

Meanwhile, government forces have tightened the security within the city as Misuari recently repeated his declaration of Mindanao's independence, which further complicates the ongoing peace talks with the MILF.

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