New clashes push back peace prospects in Philippines

Published on 26 May 2009

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the southern Philippines in recent weeks as troops step up an offensive against rogue Muslim rebels, aid and local officials say. (..) "We didn't expect the sudden rise in the number of displaced families in the last two weeks," said Mishael Argonza of the U.N. World Food Programme, pointing to lists of families fleeing from their homes and farms in Maguindanao, one of the six provinces. "We were actually expecting the numbers to come down from about 36,000 families to only about 20,000 families by next month. But, we're seeing more people flocking to our camps and many of them from villages not affected by conflict before."

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