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Mindanao’s Refugee Crisis Worsens With The Rains

September 22, 2008

The annual ‘glad-handing’ activities are taking place at the United Nations this week. So, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, with a 70-member traveling party in tow, is flying to New York tomorrow to join the usual long list of speakers trying to get the ear of the General Assembly.

She is certain to speak about the situation in ~Mindanao, among others, and will take the chance to do pocket one-on-ones with leaders of Islamic countries.

Mrs. Arroyo is correct to embark on this diplomatic journey.

They need to hear her side about why the peace talks with the Moro rebels have collapsed. Sadly, however, the process stands little chance of getting restarted during the remainder of her term.

The focus must be on mobilizing internationalo aid to step the huge internal refugee problem.

The numbers are stark: half a million people, many women, children and old folk all driven from their homes and farms by the fighting which threatens to reintensity with Ramadan ending.

All that government can give the refugees are ‘starvation’ food packs consisting of 3 kilos of rice, 3 packs of instant noodles and three cans of sardine for 3 days per family.

With thr monsoon rains pouring, the wide march areas of Maguindanao, Cotabato and Lana area starting to flood, with the siatuation made worse by rainwater running off from the denuded forests in the uplands..

There are no latrines for the refugees, no real tents to shild them from the rains, and no real food to prevent malnutrition and water-born diseases.

This is the picture the world must see, and act on.

It will be up to President Arroyo to present this picture, embarrassing though it may be for her well-heeled traveling companions in New York

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