Philippines: Durable solutions still out of sight for many IDPs and returnees in Mindanao
House of displaced household in Cotabato City (IDMC, May 2009).
Download Asia-Pacific Overview
31 December 2012
An estimated 178,000 people were displaced by conflict and violence during 2012 in Mindanao in the southern Philippines, where the government has been fighting insurgent groups since the 1970s. For most, displacement was short-lived, and only a few thousand people were unable to return by the end of the year.
Armed clashes between the government and Muslim insurgents and violence between local clans were the main causes of displacement, which took place primarily in the Muslim-majority provinces of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Clashes between government forces and communist rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) also forced people to flee their homes, in most cases in resource-rich indigenous territories in northern and eastern Mindanao.
Disasters are also major causes of displacement in Mindanao, affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year and often making groups already displaced by conflict and violence more vulnerable. Almost exactly a year after tropical storm Sendong devastated the northern cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, typhoon Pablo struck eastern Mindanao in December 2012, killing more than 1,000 people, displacing nearly a million and affecting more than six million. The impact of both storms was made worse by environmental degradation caused by poorly regulated mining and logging activities.
IDPs and returnees in Mindanao tend to live in insecure environments prone to violence and where the rule of law is often absent. They are exposed to a range of threats, including abuses by armed groups, unexploded ordnance and gender-based violence. Military operations and counter-insurgency tactics sometimes restrict IDPs’ rights, including their freedom of movement and access to food and livelihoods. Poverty is a key driver of onward migration, with people who lost their assets and livelihoods in their initial displacement forced to move again in search of work. This increases IDPs’ vulnerability. Children in particular have to drop out of school, and they face a significant risk of falling prey to human traffickers or being recruited into armed groups.
The cycle of violence and displacement in many areas in Mindanao tends to have long-lasting effects, and displacement generally does not end when IDPs return. An assessment conducted in September 2012 in 33 municipalities across Mindanao identified more than 500,000 people, mainly IDPs and returnees, who still needed humanitarian and recovery assistance. Nearly half had been affected by armed conflict and most were located in Maguindanao, the province by far the hardest-hit.
Three out of four households in Maguindanao have fled twice or more in the past ten years. Many of those who returned to the province following the end of the 2008 to 2009 conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have struggled to access basic services and re-establish their livelihoods, the result both of recurrent flooding and sporadic fighting, mainly caused by clan feuds. Most received no assistance when they returned.
The government and its international partners have made significant efforts to address IDPs’ immediate humanitarian needs, but a lack of funding has often undermined the effectiveness of early recovery and rehabilitation programmes. Assistance has also been hampered by weak institutions, poor capacity and a lack of downward accountability by local authorities.
In October 2012, the government and MILF signed a framework agreement which provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new political entity to replace ARMM by 2016. This represents a chance to end the conflict and address the underlying causes of displacement.
Efforts to develop new legislation on displacement progressed well during the year, and in February 2013 congress enacted the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act. Under the new law, which provides for the protection and assistance of people displaced by both conflict and natural disasters, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) becomes the government’s institutional focal point for IDPs.
At the end of 2012, the UN requested a total of $100 million to fund its humanitarian and recovery programmes in Mindanao in 2013. Of the total, a third is to support its continuing operations in central Mindanao and the rest is to respond to the humanitarian needs arising from typhoon Pablo.
The UN will continue to support efforts to assist people affected by conflict and disaster in 2013, and it will also seek to strengthen its collaboration with the government and the humanitarian and development communities with the longer term aim of stabilising conflict-affected areas and facilitating durable solutions for IDPs.
Philippines: more clashes in Maguindanao as 47,000 people remain displaced (20 September 2012)
More displacements have taken place in the Philippines' troubled Mindanao region following clashes between the the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the breakaway group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). It is believed that the fighting may have been caused by a land dispute near the town of Datu Saudi, forcing dozens of families
to flee their homes for safety.
These events follow a wave of displacements in early August when up to 60,000 people were forced to flee their homes in the wake of attacks by the BIFF on the Philippines Armed Forces (AFP) in Maguindanao and North Cotabato province. In total, some 47,000 people are still believed to be displaced in both provinces, the majority living with host families.
Seven other municipalities in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces continue to record high numbers of IDPs . Assistance to the displaced has primarily been provided by local and provincial governments with support from aid agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Food Programme. According to the UN Protection Cluster, as of early September the main assistance needs concerned drinking water, toilets, food, shelter and protection. IDPs in host families, and the host families themselves, remained largely un-assisted.
A bend in the road is not the end of the road – the veto of the IDP Act in the Philippines (13 June 2013)
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is disappointed by the recent vetoing of the Rights of the IDP Act of 2013 by the President of the Philippines, His Excellency Benigno Aquino. The IDP Act would have strengthened the already significant efforts made by the Philippines government over the past decade to assist and protect the millions of people who have been displaced by conflict, violence and natural disasters in the country. The adoption of the IDP Act by the Congress last February raised hope that displaced Filipinos and those at risk of displacement would be better protected by a law that guarantees their rights in accordance with international standards, particularly the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The Act was also significant in that it recognised the importance of prevention from displacement and clearly set out the responsibilities of the government to respond to the protection and assistance needs of IDPs.
The government justified its decision to veto the Bill on the grounds that some of its provisions were unconstitutional. It raised particular concerns over the Bill’s requirement that the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) be expanded. It considered that additional powers, namely the power to determine damages incurred against IDPs and facilitate the award of such claims, exceeded the role of the CHR, as defined under the constitution. Further, the government objected to the Bill’s provision on damages. According to the Bill in its current form there should be no difference between displacement caused by the state security forces and those caused by non-state actors. Finally, the government considered that individuals should not be allowed to claim financial assistance and compensation from the government based on their displacement, which it believed would be contrary to the ‘non-suability’ of the State. (...)
Read the full statemen
||Durable solutions still out of sight for many IDPs and returnees in Mindanao (10 June 2011) HTML | PDF
Internal Displacement Profile
"Causes and Background","Background","Causes of displacement"
"IDP Population Figures","Number of IDPs","Location (s) of IDP populations","IDP Demographic structure"
"IDP Population Movements and Patterns","Patterns of movement"
"Physical Security and Integrity","Physical security","dignity","mental and moral integrity","Liberty and freedom of movement"
"Basic Necessities of Life","General","Food and water","Shelter and housing","Medical care and sanitation"
"Property, Livelihoods, Education and Other Economic, Social and Cultural Rights","Land and Property","Primary education and educational programmes","Work and livelihood opportunities and coping strategies","Other economic","social and cultural rights"
"Family Life, Participation, Access to Justice and Other Civil and Political Rights","Public participation and access to information","Access to justice"
"Protection of Special Categories of IDPs (Age, Gender, Diversity)","Gender - Women and Men","Boys","girls and adolescents","Indigenous peoples","minorities","peasants","pastoralists and other groups with a special dependency on and attachment to their lands"
"Durable Solutions (Return, Local Integration, Settlement Elsewhere in the Country)","Documented returns","settled locally and settled elsewhere","Prospects for and obstacles to voluntary return","local settlement and settlement elsewhere","Support for return integration and reintegration"
"National and International Response","International human rights and humanitarian law framework including references to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement","National Response","Humanitarian access and assistance","International Response"
Previous Profile updates
- Key Documents
- An Act Protecting the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Providing Penalties for Violations Therof and for Other Purposes, Philippine Congress, 5 February 2013
- Disaster-induced displacement in the Philippines, IDMC, 29 January 2013
- Protection cluster fact sheet typhoon Bopha response (as of 14 January 2013), Protection Cluster, Mindanao, Philippines, 14 January 2013
- PC Dashboard - Forced displacement and return - Issue No 8 - January-December 2012, Protection Cluster, Mindanao, Philippines, 2013
- Philippines (Mindanao) Humanitarian Action Plan 2013, OCHA, 27 November 2012
- The new peace agreement in the Philippines is an opportunity to address internal displacement in Mindanao, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 19 October 2012
- Mid-Year Review of the Humanitarian Action Plan for Philippines (Mindanao) 2012, OCHA, 21 August 2012
- Violent Conflicts and Displacement in Central Mindanao - Challenges for recovery and development - Key findings, WB and WFP, 15 February 2012
- Violent Conflicts and Displacement in Central Mindanao - Challenges for recovery and development, World Bank (WB) and World Food Programme (WFP), 15 February 2012
- Philippines (Mindanao) Humanitarian Action Plan 2012, OCHA, 22 November 2011
- Urban Safety Profile in ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), in Autonomy and Peace Review, Volume No. 6, Issue No. 4, October-December 2010, Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG), 8 June 2011
- The Search for Durable Solutions - Armed Conflict and Forced Displacement in Mindanao, Philippines, WB, March 2011
- Follow-up Emergency Nutritional Assessment of the Conflict-Affected Communities in Central Mindanao, Philippines, Save the Children in the Philippines (SCiPHL), 6 August 2010
- ARMM Early Recovery Plan, Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 2010
- Cycle of conflict and neglect - Mindanao's displacement and protection crisis, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), October 2009
- Shattered Lives: Beyond the 2009-2009 Mindanao armed conflict, AI, 25 August 2009
- WASH Cluster Rapid Assessment - Communities in Central Mindanao, Philippines WASH cluster, August 2009
- NDCC Update, Sitrep No 86, Complex emergency in Mindanao, National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), 14 July 2009
- European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the Philippines, European Parliament, 12 March 2009
- The Philippines: Running in Place in Mindanao, ICG, 16 February 2009
- Shattered peace in Mindanao: the human cost of conflict in the Philippines, AI, 29 October 2008
- Initial Needs Assessment Mission to Mindanao, 4-5 and 7-10 September 2008, IASC Country Team in the Philippine, 13 September 2008