03 October 2017, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon—Around 400 Lumad evacuees, including 130 infants from 89 families, benefitted from the urgently-needed medical mission made possible by the Emergency Grants facility of the ‘Promoting and Protecting Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines’ (PPIHRP) project.
The beneficiaries, evacuees from Cabanglasan and San Fernando, have sought refuge at the provincial capitol grounds of Bukidnon this city after fleeing their respective communities in May this year due to threats and intimidations from paramilitary groups Alamara and the New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR). These paramilitary groups are notorious for killing indigenous leaders, including Ande Latuan who was slain on July 6 this same year.
The displaced Lumad confronted malnutrition due to limited humanitarian support, and suffered various illness due to poor conditions and sanitation inside the makeshift tents they have erected in front of the provincial capitol. Four infants, including Angeline Popwan and eight-month old Tony Boy Suman, died while in evacuation.
Lea Acenas of Health-Bukidnon who facilitated the distribution of medicines said that the most common diseases experienced by the evacuees are diarrhea and cough, which are not surprising given the conditions of the drinking water, food, and sanitation. To address this, antibiotics and oral rehydration solutions were distributed as part of the medical and hygiene kits. But because synthetic medicines are mostly unavailable in the far-flung areas where these Lumads reside, the Lumad community members were also taught how to prepare organic medications from leaves, roots, and other parts of common medicinal plants for common digestive and respiratory diseases that they can utilize back home.
The mission also consisted of feeding, health education symposium, and distribution of food packs and clean drinking water to the beneficiaries. Children were also engaged in psychosocial activities such as games, storytelling sessions, and artistic trauma healing.
The PPIHRP is a joint initiative of Relief International and the RMP-NMR. It is supported by the European Union through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.
PPIHRP’s Emergency Grants facility has been activated to support indigenous leaders and their communities affected by human rights violations. Indicative amounts are between EUR 50-500 for services such as legal assistance, financial and material, and relocation. Higher amounts, such as in this situation, are considered on a case-to-case basis depending on the need and actual costs and other resources. Support for direct family members (spouse and dependent children) are based on need and are assessed on a case-to-case arrangement.
Indigenous communities in Mindanao facing human rights emergencies and want to avail of the facility should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.