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Months on, fate of Philippines’ displaced still locked in uncertainty

ICC Note:

The violence sparked by the rebel MILF’s reaction to a government halted peace deal continues to rage on in the Philippines. Thousands of displaced are still too frightened to return to their homes.

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10/10/2008 Philippines (ChinaView) Sitting by the window of a classroom-turned-shelter, watching her seven kids play around, Samira Endosan said it is exactly where she was hit by shrapnel one week ago, right after the end of Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“We just finished dinner and I was making coffee. Suddenly, Bang! Something dropped into the shallow filthy swamp outside the room,” she said, revealing the cotton-swab-covered wounds close to the back spine.

“I am scared and worried about my baby,” said the 38-year-old mother pregnant with her eighth child.

In August, Samira fled home with seven children to join the thousands of evacuees camping out in the Datu Gumbay Piang Center Elementary School for temporary shelter, when the government and rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, engaged in a prolonged and fierce fire-fight.

Sitting by the window of a classroom-turned-shelter, watching her seven kids play around, Samira Endosan said it is exactly where she was hit by shrapnel one week ago, right after the end of Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“We just finished dinner and I was making coffee. Suddenly, Bang! Something dropped into the shallow filthy swamp outside the room,” she said, revealing the cotton-swab-covered wounds close to the back spine.

“I am scared and worried about my baby,” said the 38-year-old mother pregnant with her eighth child.

In August, Samira fled home with seven children to join the thousands of evacuees camping out in the Datu Gumbay Piang Center Elementary School for temporary shelter, when the government and rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, engaged in a prolonged and fierce fire-fight.

The government and the army have repeatedly vowed to clamp down upon insurgency and armed rebellion in Mindanao by 2010. The administration in September dissolved its peace talk panel to end the seven-year peace negotiation with the 12,000-strong MILF.

The military has since then stepped up the operation to “neutralize” Kato and two other MILF sub-commanders, whom were accused by the government of looting a string of Christian villages in August and ignited the escalation of clashes.

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