Bishops launch fundraiser for victims in Zamboanga
Catholic leaders are organizing peace initiatives including prayer, fasting and silent vigils. However, the death toll continues to grow with little hope for a truce.
The National Secretariat for Justice and Peace (NASSA) of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday appealed for humanitarian assistance for the population of Zamboanga, affected by the war between the army and Islamic rebel Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Catholic leaders are organizing peace initiatives including prayer, fasting and silent vigils. However, the death toll continues to grow with little hope for a truce. The clashes in recent days have spread to the province of Basilan, where there are already thousands of displaced people in Lamitan City and other towns in the area.
Since the beginning of the military operations against MNLF on September 9, the area has been virtually paralyzed and its people live in a state of fear. The number of dead in Zamboanga has risen to 140, mostly militia men; the wounded exceed 300, at least 200,000 of a total population of about 800,000 people are refugees.
NASSA officials have launched the fundraising campaign to support the local population through its offices in territories across the area of conflict and engaged partners to help distribute aid within shelters.
Auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, NASSA President, confirmed that the Catholic movement has sent 100,000 pesos (just over $ 2,300) to the Archdiocese of Zamboanga since the beginning of the conflict. In addition, some dioceses have sent truckloads of clothes, basic necessities and rice.
"We appeal for your helpto support the aid of the Church and so that, all together, we can bring the message of peace and love to our brothers and sisters in need. The children in particular are suffering from the conflict, the prey of disease and inadequate nutrition," Bishop Pabillo said.
To help raise funds for NASSA, you can make a donation by bank draft to the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), current account 4951-0071-08 payable to CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Inc.