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"Our house was completely razed by fire," said Milagrosa Magalso, a 46-year-old mother of two who used to live in barangay Santa Catalina, one of the areas hardest hit by the fighting. "It's hard to accept that we'll have to start building our lives again from the ground up." With thousands of houses completely burned down and public infrastructure having suffered significant damage as a result of the fighting, many civilians will never be able to return to their homes.
"This is a devastating reality for the population of Zamboanga as a whole," said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Philippine Red Cross. "Besides losing their homes, many people have lost their livelihoods. They will need to rebuild their lives from scratch, which will take considerable time and effort. Together with the International Committee of the Red Cross, we have to prepare for and work to respond to long-term displacement."
From the onset of the crisis, the relief operations carried out jointly by the Philippine Red Cross and the ICRC have focused mainly on addressing needs in the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, the biggest evacuation centre in the city. The two organizations have further scaled up their joint relief operations since last week and are also attending to the needs of people affected in other areas of the city.Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports ComplexDaily distributions of hot meals for an average of 10,000 displaced people. About 134,000 hot meals were served between 9 and 21 September. In support of the Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC sent 1,000 food kits containing 25 kg of rice, oil, sardines, sugar, coffee, salt and soy sauce to the Zamboanga chapter.Distribution of items such as kitchen utensils, jerrycans, basins, towels, and bath and laundry soap to 33,000 people.A total of 31 communal tents made of tarpaulins provided by the ICRC have so far been erected by 120 evacuees participating in a cash-for-work scheme. The tents can shelter more than 2,500 persons.
First-aid and ambulance service provided for weapon-wounded patients and other general referrals by Philippine Red Cross personnel.
For further information, please contact:Soaade Messoudi, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 918 907 2125Allison Lopez, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 908 868 6884Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 30 23 or +41 79 251 93 02