MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines Friday condemned the armed violence in Zamboanga City that has displaced thousands of civilians.
‘‘The EU Delegation wishes to express its concern over the recent spate of violence in parts of Zamboanga, initiated by a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),” it said in a statement.
“We strongly condemn any violation of the international law and human rights of the civilian population in Zamboanga, especially those of women and children. We sympathize with the wounded and hurt, and offer our condolences to the families of the victims of this violence,” it said.
Early Monday morning, armed members of the MNLF attempted to march to Zamboanga City Hall in what it claims was a “peace rally.”
Government forces repulsed the group which subsequently took over several villages and held locals as hostages.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been trying to contain the armed group to prevent them from going into other nearby villages.
Malacanan has previously issued a statement saying that the MNLF members should cooperate for a peaceful solution as soon as possible.
“We urge an unconditionally and immediate ending of the violence in Zamboanga and the release all civilians,” the EU delegation said.
“We further urge that all parties recommit irrevocably and exclusively to the political process and ongoing negotiations to ensure a lasting, just and peaceful settlement in Mindanao,” it said.
The delegation further expressed concern for the large number of people in evacuation centers as well as those caught in the clashes.
“[We are] also concerned by reports of an emerging humanitarian crisis, spurned by the growing number of Internally Displaced Persons in the affected areas,” it said.
“The EU Delegation stresses the need for all sides to recognise international rules by allowing safe access of humanitarian organisations and assistance,” it added.