Philippines: MSF assists displaced in the south

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However, this shift in the capital did little to alleviate the political and social turbulence among the country's poor majority and in the south, where the government has been struggling to quell the independence aspirations of separatist groups. Aid in areas exhausted by strife Although Mindanao province has long been the site of clashes between the government army and rebel groups, early 2000 saw the government army launch an all-out attack on the rebel Moro Independence Liberation Front. Nearly 800,000 people were subsequently displaced from their homes. In July 2000, MSF began assisting displaced people in the Cotabato area of Mindanao. Aid includes supplying medicines, constructing shelters and setting up water and sanitation services. Mobile clinics are regularly sent to centers for the displaced. In neighboring Sulu province, itself exhausted by civil conflict, MSF began aiding community pharmacies in rural health posts in 1997. After the establishment of a basic drug supply and cost recovery system, the pharmacy network is now autonomous. Street children in Manila Two projects assisting Manila street children continue. One team runs a mobile unit that provides examinations and dispenses drugs free of charge; the other team is working to make Filipino society more accepting of street children. In addition to providing direct aid to the children, MSF helps key actors (such as health workers, police officers and prison guards) understand the kinds of problems faced by street children. Lobbying local governments and agencies to improve treatment and living conditions of these young people is an important part of MSF's work. MSF has a separate project to improve water quality and sanitation in the slum area of Malabon, north of the capital. MSF has been working in the Philippines since 1984. International staff: 9 National staff: 61