The United Nations has begun airlifting food to thousands of refugees who have fled violence in the southern Philippines. Three days of fighting has displaced an estimated 160,000 people.
Fighting has displaced entire villages
The UN's World Food Program shipped 400 tons of rice to communities in the country's North Cotabato province on Tuesday, Aug. 12, as fighting continued between Muslim rebels and Philippine security forces.
According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), 43 evacuation centers have been set up for refugees forced to flee their homes.
"This is turning into a humanitarian mess," congresswoman Risa Hontiveros said Tuesday.
Fighting began last week after the Supreme Court ordered the government to suspend plans to establish an extended Muslim homeland in the southern Philippines. News agencies reported that Philippine troops had begun to drive Muslim separatist rebels out of some villages in the southern province.