Thousands of Zambo students yet to return to school after siege

Posted at 02/18/14 4:33 PM

MANILA – Over five months after the armed incursion of followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels loyal to Nur Misuari, thousands of displaced students have yet to go back to school.

Shiela Covarrubias, public information officer of Zamboanga City, said at least 3,051 pupils from three elementary schools have yet to resume classes.

Covarrubias said the city government is now working to locate 1,779 pupils (58.89% of total population) from Sta. Barbara Elementary School, 678 pupils from Mariki Elementary School (58.7% of total population), and 594 pupils (64.39% of population) from Rio Hondo Elementary School.

The city government said the pupils may be having a hard time going back to schools since some of them remain in evacuation centers.

To address the concern, the government ordered schools to accept displaced pupils, especially those from schools which were badly damaged in the siege.

Meanwhile, the number of displaced persons who died at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex and the RT Lim Boulevard evacuation centers has reached 84, according to City Health Officer Dr. Rodel Agbulos

Agbulos said there were 10 deaths reported from February 3 to 9 at the evacuation centers due to pneumonia and gastro-enteritis, which are affecting mostly children 5 years old and below.

Over 3,000 families are still staying at the sports complex, which is the biggest evacuation center in the city.

Almost 1,000 families mostly belonging to Sama-Badjao people are staying along the shoreline in RT Lim Boulevard. Seven schools are also still being occupied by the displaced persons.

The September 9 siege left about 200 MNLF fighters, government troops and civilians dead.