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International appeal to lift relief blockade in Mindanao


June 2, 2009
- Dan Dyck

Mindanao, Philippines — Joji Pantoja, Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker in Mindanao, Philippines, is appealing for prayer in response to a food blockade in a region of heavy fighting.

According to reports from freelance Filipino journalist Romy Elusfa, clashes between government militias and Moro guerrillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front resulted in the burning of civilian homes on May 31 – adding 200 families to the 6,277 evacuee-families reported the previous week in the rural regions surrounding Cotatabo City.

Elusfa reports that Yul Olaya, coordinator of the Bantay Ceasefire, a community-based grassroots organization, was able to count 92 houses burned. He also wrote that, “At a coordination meeting of humanitarian agencies and representatives of the evacuees in Cotabato City last Thursday, it was reported that the military has blocked a truck-load of rice intended for the evacuees last May 27. On May 5, 11 truckloads of relief goods of the International Committee on the Red Cross were also blocked at a military checkpoint.”