MANILA, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Close to 500 families in Lanao del Sur province in the southern Philippines are still unable to return to their villages due to security concerns, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.
Meher Khatcherian, who heads the ICRC office covering the province, expressed concern over the plight of the families displaced recently by fightings between government troops and terror groups.
"Though various government agencies have distributed food among the displaced population, there is a need to extend more help. Our aim is to augment the initial support," he said.
On Thursday, the ICRC has distributed rice, tinned sardines, sugar, and other essential supplies like mats, blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen utensils to the evacuees in Pagayawan town comprising around 2,500 people.
The ICRC said more than 14,000 people were initially displaced by the fighting between the Philippine troops and alleged members of Islamic State-Ranao that started on June 17 and affected 16 villages in Pagayawan and Tubaran towns.
"In accordance with our mandate, the ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, sick and wounded people, and detainees, and to fulfil their obligation to respect international humanitarian law," Khatcherian said.
Ever since clashes broke out in Marawi City, also in Lanao del Sur, in May 2017, the ICRC, along with its operational partner, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), has helped hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict.
Thousands of Marawi residents were displaced when militants attacked the southern Philippine city that triggered a five-month fierce fighting that left 1,200 people dead.