Forced to flee: How many have been displaced due to conflict

buru-on, iligan city
FLEEING THE FIGHTING. A mother and her baby rest at an evacuation center at the Buru-on Barangay Hall in Iligan on the southern island of Mindanao on June 15, 2017. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

Over 4 million Filipinos have been displaced in Mindanao alone since 2000, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

MANILA, Philippines (Jul. 11, 2017) — Apart from natural disasters and hazards, frequent conflicts in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, force residents to seek refuge in evacuation centers.

Though the Philippine population in 2016 hit more than 102 million, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) reported 348,370 persons of concern in the Philippines by the end of 2016. More than 87,000 of these are internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled home because of armed clashes, internal wars, and other forms of violence.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), “displacement caused by conflict tends to affect the same deprived communities repeatedly, gradually undermining their resilience and pushing them further into poverty.”

Below are several conflicts that triggered mass displacement in the past 7 years.

Armed conflict in Cotabato, October 2010

  • Affected 6 barangays, affecting 5,726 persons or 1,042 families

Armed conflict in Cotabato, February 2012

  • 105 families were affected when the groups of two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders clashed in North Cotabato over a long-running land dispute

Armed conflict in Butuan City, March 2013

  • An encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Anticala forced 750 persons or 150 families to flee

Zamboanga siege, September 2013

  • The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) destroyed 10,000 homes, and at least 327,000 people displaced
  • 63,000 people were unable to return to their homes because parts of the city were declared “no return areas”
  • As of December 2014, 209 IDPs were reported to have died due to pneumonia and acute gastroenteritis. Half of them were children under 5 years old.

Military offensive vs BIFF, March 2015

  • At least 8,149 families or 40,745 individuals were displaced following the military’s all-our war against rebel group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Clash between BIFF and MILF, March 2015

  • At least 6,383 families or 34,925 individuals were displaced after clashes erupted between members of the BIFF and the MILF in Barangay Kalbugan in Pagalungan town, North Cotabato, reportedly due to “contending controls over the areas.”

Butig clashes, March 2016

  • At least 7,800 people were displaced as government troops clashed with the Maute terror group.

Military operations vs Abu Sayyaf, January 2016-February 2017

  • More than 68,400 displaced in Sulu and Basilan.
  • Most of the IDPs returned home by December 2016.

Bohol clashes, April 2017

  • Around 3,000 people were displaced when government troops clashed with the Abu Sayyaf.

Marawi siege, 23 May 2017-present

  • More than 400,000 people have been displaced in the ongoing conflict.
  • 70,380 have been housed in 79 government evacuation centers.

internally-displaced persons

The IDMC estimates that over 4 million people have been displaced in Mindanao since 2000, due to armed conflict, crime, and clan violence.

by Gari Acolola |