Philippines IDP Figures Analysis

As of May 2015, it was estimated that at least 119,000 people remained displaced in the Philippines due to conflict and violence. In addition, at least 140,000 people were still displaced as a result of natural hazards-related disasters.


Data collection challenges

The estimate for the number of people currently displaced is mainly based on figures provided by the UNHCR-led Mindanao Protection Cluster (MPC). Data is collected by the Protection Cluster members and as such only reflect displacement events that have been reported. The main source for natural hazard-related displacement data is the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

IDP figures in the Philippines fluctuate constantly due to the high frequency of disasters and the high number of conflicts or other sources of violence. As some people are newly displaced, others return, integrate locally or settle elsewhere. At best the figures provide a snapshot at one given time of situations which may change significantly in a matter of weeks or months.

Figures also tend to only partially capture the reality of displacement as they generally reflect the initial movement of people who seek refuge in government-run evacuation centres. They sometimes fail to account for, or at least underestimate the number of IDPs who opt to stay with host families or in makeshift shelters, and secondary movements of those for whom return may not be possible or who chose to settle elsewhere (Philippines HCT, 31 August 2014, p.12).

Displacement caused by conflict and violence on the rise since January 2015 

Close to 220,000 people have been displaced in Mindanao due to conflict and violence since January 2015. This is nearly twice the number of people who were displaced during 2014. The majority fled a military offensive launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) at the end of February 2015 in the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato. While most IDPs have since been able to return, as of 2 May, 40,355 people remained displaced, the majority in Maguindanao.

During 2015, people also fled fighting between the AFP and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan province, fighting between the AFP and the New People’s Army in Compostela Valley, fighting between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the BIFF in Maguindanao and North Cotabato province as well as clan feuds in Sulu and Lanao del Sur province. Tens of thousands of people remain displaced as a result of these conflicts.     

The total number of people still displaced by conflict and violence also includes 28,616 people who were displaced prior to January 2014, mainly as a result of the 3-week long conflict between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga which occurred in September 2013 (MPC, 13 May 2015).    

An estimated 123,800 people were displaced in 2014 with armed conflict the main driver of displacement (71,800) followed by crime and violence (32,000) and clan-related violence (20,000). Based on government reports, it is estimated that 5.8 million people were displaced by natural hazard-related disasters in 2014.

Conflict-related displacement concentrated in Mindanao

All IDPs are located on the southern island of Mindanao, the region in the Philippines most affected by conflict-related displacement in the past decade. IDMC estimates that since 2000, over four million people have been displaced there due to a combination of armed conflict, crime and violence and clan violence. The majority fled their homes in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a result of fighting between the government and the MILF, but violence and insecurity have also been fuelled by the activities of other Muslim non-state armed groups, including the BIFF, as well as by clan feuds (‘rido’) between powerful Moro clans often driven by political rivalries and land disputes.

Current IDP numbers by (Mindanao) regions:

·         Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM): 81,000

·         Region IX (Western Mindanao): 33,500

·         Region X (Northern Mindanao): 300

·         Region XII (Central Mindanao): 4,000

Natural hazard-related displacement

The Philippines, and Mindanao in particular, is prone to rapid-onset natural hazards, mainly typhoons and floods but also earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Based on government reports compiled by IDMC, it is estimated that 5.8 million were displaced during 2014. The largest displacement of 2014 took place as a result of typhoon Rammasun (Glenda) which made landfall on 14 July, affecting over one million families and displacing nearly three million people (NDRRMC, 16 September 2014). The second largest displacement was caused by typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) which displaced over 1.7 million people in December (OCHA, 11 December 2014). The number of people who remain displaced as a result of natural hazard-related disasters that occurred during 2014 is unknown.

It is estimated that 140,000 people displaced prior to 2014 had still not found durable solutions in 2015. This included 20,000 people displaced by typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 and who were still living in camps as well as 120,000 people displaced by typhoon Pablo in December 2013 (UNHCR, 7 November 2014; MPC, 13 May 2015).

IDMC uses only the most credible accurate information available. Notwithstanding the caveats and limitations of the source information described above, IDMC believes this to be the best data and is grateful to the partners for sharing it.