New clashes push back peace talks in Mindanao

Published on 27 May 2009

New clashes push back peace talks in Mindanao Scores of people are displaced in Mindanao as troops escalate offensive against rebels. (...) Last year, a UN report said at least 600,000 people fled their homes in the area, the largest number of internally displaced people anywhere in the world. The numbers dropped subsequently but have crept back to about 500,000 since early May, local officials say. People are crammed into mosques, schools, public gymnasiums and in makeshift houses. “We didn’t expect the sudden rise in the number of displaced families in the last two weeks,” said Mishael Argonza of the UN 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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