Since 1968, Central and South-western Mindanao has been the scene of fighting between Muslim autonomists and the Philippines government, with intermittent periods of peace and conflict. Each round of fighting leads to unexploded ordnace and explosive hazards, posing risks to civilians, refugees and returnees in particular.
In 2005, the Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCH) asked FSD to provide technical assistance in support of the Peace Process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). FSD was encouraged to develop a “joint” survey and clearance proposal in Muslim Mindanao working with staff from both sides of the conflict. FSD also provided risk education to independent international ceasefire monitors.
FSD’s programme in the Philippines aims to assist the parties to remove this obstacle to Peace Process by: finding out where the UXO problem is, warning communities of the dangers and mobilising UXO clearance resources to remove the problem permanently. The programme includes building the capacity of transitory and established Bangsamoro authorities, including the establishment of a Bangsmaoro Mine Action Centre (BMAC), to coordinate and carry out mine action activities (survey, clearance, risk education, and victims’ assistance) and weapons and ammunition management.
Since its inception, FSD’s programme in the Philippines has trained over 185 professional MRE volunteers, carried out 1,983 MRE sessions, reaching over 126,000 beneficiaries. 450 villages have been surveyed, in which 153 explosive hazardous areas have been identified. Of these, 41 tasks have been cleared in joint GPH-MILF UXO clearance operations. 132 UXO victims have been reported on and, where possible, FSD coordinates victims’ assistance through organisations such as the ICRC.