MANILA, Philippines – Aid workers warned Thursday (September 26th) of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Zamboanga, racked by more than two weeks of deadly street battles between Muslim rebels and soldiers, AFP reported.
The overnight death of three soldiers brought the official death toll from the conflict to 173, as Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerrillas remained defiant despite being heavily outnumbered.
According to the UN, more than 109,000 residents, or about 10% of the population, have been displaced since hundreds of MNLF rebels entered Zamboanga in an attempt to derail government peace talks.
The UN highlighted particular concerns for 70,000 people sheltering in the city's main sports complex, warning of a serious risk of disease outbreaks and a dire need for food, drinking water and tents.
Already, there have been outbreaks of measles, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis in some evacuation centres, City Crisis Management Committee Spokeswoman Sheila Covarrubias, told AFP.