Philippines: UN warns of humanitarian crisis in southern Philippines

MANILA (AFP) – The United Nations warned Wednesday that the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga faces a humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands of people uprooted by a wave of deadly violence.

Hundreds of soldiers and police have been engaged in combat since Sept 9 when about 200 Muslim guerrillas entered the city in the most serious armed challenge to the Philippine government in recent years.

About 15 soldiers and police have been killed along with at least 104 members of the Moro National Liberation Front, police have said. Scores of MNLF fighters have also been arrested or surrendered but others are still at large, holding civilians as human shields.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 158,000 people have been affected by the violence and more than 10,000 homes have been destroyed