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Effects of Forced Evacuation and Internal Displacement

1.    Deprivation of Basic Needs

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are deprived of shelter, food, and clothing.  Herded into relocation centers or strategic hamlets, the cramped situation takes away their privacy and makes them vulnerable to untoward incidents.

2.    Economic Dislocation
Many IDPs are farmers who become economically dislocated because, oftentimes, the military does not allow them to return to their farms.  Most evacuation centers are located in areas far away from the work places of IDPs.  There are hardly any income-generating opportunities in the evacuation center.  Idleness ushers in boredom which usually issues in anti-social behavior.

3.    Prevalence of Diseases
The absence of nutritious food, congested housing and poor sanitation in relocation centers often lead to outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhea, measles, cough and colds.  During the 2000 displacement in Mindanao, 150 children, ages 0-2 years, died of diarrhea, pneumonia, and measles inside the evacuation centers.  In 2003, forty three (43) persons died of upper respiratory illnesses; thirty-six (36) were children.

4.    Disruption of Normal Social and Family Life
Often, in the confusion that accompanies a forced evacuation, family members are separated from each other.  Relationships are strained as the male family members, all of a sudden, lose their means of livelihood and are forced to seek employment elsewhere.  The women, therefore, have to take on the added responsibility of keeping the family together and provide for their basic needs.  Children of school age are forced to stop schooling.  They are traumatized upon seeing their family members apprehended or killed, their homes burned, and their lives shattered.

5.    Loss of Property
As IDPs flee their homes, a considerable amount of money and property are lost.  Farms have to be abandoned, household items are stolen, houses are damaged, animals are confiscated by the pursuing soldiers, harvested corn and rice are either stolen or burned.

6.    Inhuman Treatment and Other Human Rights Violations
The conduct of military campaigns and operations is often accompanied with gross human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, abduction, illegal detention, physical assault, and arson.  Cases of extrajudicial killings of IDPs who are involved in the organized movement for change have been documented.

Internal refugees are experiencing repeated, prolonged, and protracted displacement.  The most vulnerable are the children, the women, and the elderly.

Context of Our Ministry

The long-standing social and economic inequities, largely rooted in the prevailing neo-colonial pattern of social, economic, political and cultural relations, the Philippine society has been marked by conflict, political violence and internal strife. 

The government is at war with the New People’s Army (NPA), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group.  These wars cause thousands upon thousands of displaced persons.  Internal refugees, as they are called by non-governmental and people’s organizations, are forced to go into hiding or remain in evacuation centers which can hardly be called “home”.  

More often than not, their human rights are severely violated.  Two disaster relief organizations have reported that more than half of the incidents of forced evacuations are caused by the Armed Forces of the Philippines or military-related activities such as military operations, bombings, hamletting, massacres, summary executions, strafing, threats, theft and destruction of property.

From 1986-2006, a total of 3,143,892 individuals or some 563,476 families were displaced. The Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration accounts for 41% of these dislocated persons.

The government, equating development with the mushrooming of infrastructure projects such as dams, roads, subdivisions, and recreational facilities for tourists have driven residents from their places of abode.  The targeted communities, in courageous attempts to protect their houses and property, endeavour to resist these “development” projects.  These are met with the deployment of troops to the areas.  According to the disaster monitoring record of The Citizen’s Disaster Response Center (CDRC), 16,694 families or 91,342 individuals were affected by development aggression in 2006.

In the wake of an alarming increase of internal displacements, the EMPD was formed as a concrete response of church people to the situation of dehumanization and the erosion of people’s dignity.