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ICRC in the Philippines: respect humanitarian law

Philippines: ICRC urges respect for humanitarian law

Geneva/Manila (ICRC) – For the past 30 years the Philippines has been the scene of violence opposing various armed groups and government forces.

All too often civilians have suffered directly or indirectly as a result. The recent fighting - the most intense witnessed for some time - began in Sulu Province on the island of Jolo on 7 February; it has led to significant loss of life on both sides and to the displacement of an estimated 27,600 civilians. On 14 February, eight people were reported killed and 150 wounded in bomb attacks in the capital, Manila, and on the island of Mindanao.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urges the parties to the conflict to respect the basic rules of international humanitarian law enshrined in Article 3 common to the universally accepted 1949 Geneva Conventions and in 1977 Protocol II additional to the Conventions, which the Philippines has ratified, the customary rules on the conduct of hostilities applicable in non-international armed conflicts, and the relevant rules set down in other international treaties. These rules include the following:

• attacks directed against civilians and acts of violence aimed at spreading terror among the civilian population are prohibited;

• murder, summary execution, torture, rape, cruel treatment and the taking of hostages are prohibited;

• minors under 18 must not take direct part in the hostilities;

• wounded and sick fighters and those who are captured or surrender must be treated humanely;

• the wounded and sick must be cared for without delay and without distinction, and medical personnel and medical units such as ambulances, health posts and hospitals must be respected by both parties to the conflict; • the facilities, vehicles and personnel of the Philippines National Red Cross Society (PNRC) and the ICRC must be respected.

The ICRC calls on the parties to the conflict to maintain and improve their humanitarian dialogue with the ICRC for the benefit of the people of the Philippines.

With the ICRC’s support, the PNRC has already provided over 13,250 victims of the latest violence in Sulu province with food and shelter materials.

The ICRC has been present in the Philippines since 1982, assisting and protecting civilians displaced or otherwise affected by armed clashes, primarily on the southern island of Mindanao. In addition to acting as a neutral intermediary for humanitarian matters, the ICRC also visits security detainees and works with the PNRC through its network of local offices to assist displaced people and promote compliance with humanitarian law.

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