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Flooding displaces thousands in south Philippines

Victims of Zamboanga City clash badly affected

Flooding displaces thousands in south Philippines

Residents try to cross a flooded street in Zamboanga City (photo courtesy of PIA 9)

Joe Torres, Manila

October 8, 2013

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Heavy rains that brought floods and landslides across wide areas in the southern Philippines have displaced thousands of people and postponed repatriation of about 120,000 others affected by an insurgent attack last month in Zamboanga City.  

The floods have already claimed the lives of at least 11 people, while nearly 100,000 have been made homeless. 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said some 18,828 families or 92,658 individuals in Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and Soccsksargen regions have been displaced since October 4. 

In Zamboanga City, efforts to recover from last month's fighting between government troops and Moro National Liberation Front rebels have stalled because of the flooding.

Authorities said residents in at least 10 villages were evacuated amid heavy downpours.

"Slowly, Zamboanga City is getting back to normality, but incessant rains inundated low-lying areas causing another evacuation," said Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar. 

The mayor said city officials are studying where to relocate displaced families from last month's fighting after several evacuation centers were also flooded. 

Major roads in the city were not passable to vehicles early today. The Department of Transportation suspended all flights to the city after the airport was flooded.

Adriano Fuego, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Zamboanga, said three people died in the city due to the flooding.  

The European Union, meanwhile, announced on Monday that it is providing 300,000 euros  (about US$407,000) to fund emergency non-food supplies and assist in the management and provision of services at evacuation and displacement sites around Zamboanga. 

The four-month project will include a special focus on the most vulnerable internally displaced persons to ensure that they have access to safe and dignified shelters and access to lifesaving non-food items including blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen utensils. 

The European Union's emergency relief will provide temporary shelters for more than 1,000 families, build 21 alternative transitional shelters, and deploy 20 camp management support staff in evacuation centers.

"While helping to address the resulting crisis the EU reminds all sides of the international rules requiring safe access of humanitarian organizations and assistance," said EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux.

The EU earlier expressed its concern at the humanitarian crisis created by the fighting in Zamboanga last month.

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