Development environment

Philippines

Mid-year update 2017 (January - June)

Source
New displacements (Conflict and violence) IDMC (as of June 2017)
New displacements (Disasters) IDMC (as of June 2017)

Country Information

Source
Population UN Population Division (as of 2016)
Number of IDPs (Conflict and violence) IDMC (as of 2016)
New displacements (Conflict and violence) IDMC (as of 2016)
New displacements (Disasters) IDMC (as of 2016)
Refugees UNHCR (as of 2016)

Conflict and violence displacement figures

Latest GRID confidence assessment

Displacement type New Displacement (Flow) IDPs (Stock)
Reporting units People
People
Methodology Registration
Registration
Geographical disaggregation Admin 2 or more Admin 2 or more
Geographical coverage No No
Frequency of reporting Every month Every month
Disaggregation on sex No No
Disaggregation on age No No
Data triangulation No triangulation No triangulation
Data on settlement elsewhere No No
Data on returns Yes Yes
Data on local integration No No
Data on deaths No No
Data on births No No

Latest GRID figures analysis

IDMC’s estimates are based on reports produced by the Global Protection Cluster in the Philippines, which tracks conflict-induced displacement in the Mindanao province. These figures also include displacement caused by criminal violence and extrajudicial killings.

Download extended figures analysis (PDF, 36 KB)

Latest GRID stock figure by year of data update

Disaster displacement figures

New displacements

Events timeline

Overview

Disasters brought on by typhoons, floods and earthquakes displace millions of people across the Philippines each year, leaving hundreds of thousands in prolonged or protracted displacement situations. In the impoverished southern island group of Mindanao, decades of multiple internal armed conflicts, generalised and clan-based violence, and human rights violations continue to drive new and ongoing displacement. Human rights violations and displacement are also caused by development projects, including infrastructure, energy, waste and watershed management.

Drivers of displacement

Frequent and prolonged displacement in the Philippines occurs in the context of disasters brought on by natural hazard events, conflict in the southern island group of Mindanao, and development projects, which have often affected the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. The vulnerability of historically marginalised minority communities, including indigenous groups and people living in informal settlements, means that they tend to face the greatest risk and the worst impacts in all displacement contexts. Poverty coupled with rapid urbanisation, the growth of unplanned settlements and ineffective or unenforced building codes and land zoning regulations are major drivers of risk, as many settlements are located in hazard-prone coastal areas. Disaster risk and conflict risk are compounded by weak governance and a lack of accountability. The country is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and adverse effects are already being reported.

Due to its geographical location along the Pacific “typhoon belt” and “ring of fire”, the archipelagic country of the Philippines is highly exposed to recurrent hydro-meteorological and geophysical hazards, including tropical storms and typhoons, floods, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and droughts. The country sees 20 tropical storms on average each year, of which an average of five are destructive, with most activity in the months of June to September. Island coastlines are vulnerable to tsunamis and sea surges. Floods also occur during the rainy season from June to November and during the southwest monsoon from November to April.

Since 2008, an annual average of 3.7 million disaster-induced displacements have been recorded, 84 per cent of which were brought on by typhoons and the storm surge, floods and strong winds that usually accompany them. The largest single displacement event in recent years was brought on by the category 5 Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as “Yolanda”) in November 2013, which displaced more than four million people from their homes. Three years later, some 200,000 households (around 880,000 people) were still without permanent housing, and thousands had returned to set up makeshift homes in highly exposed coastal slums.

The southern Philippines has a long history of multi-faceted internal conflict, mostly in the remote islands of central Mindanao, involving armed Muslim separatists, communists and clan militias as well as criminal groups and political elites. Separatist violence has killed more than 120,000 people since the 1970s. After numerous failed attempts, a peace agreement was finally signed in 2014 between the government and the largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), putting an end to a 40-year conflict by granting greater political autonomy in exchange for an end to armed rebellion. Implementation of that agreement has been slow, however, and violence has continued as other insurgent groups continue to fight for full independence.

In February 2015, the armed forces of the Philippines declared an all-out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and law enforcement operations resulted in the displacement of over 125,000 people. From January 2016 to February 2017, over 68,400 people were displaced in Sulu and Basilan in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) after government military operations were launched against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). By December 2016, most of those displaced by fighting in 2016 had returned to their homes, though fighting has continued to displace people in 2017. A separate insurgency by the New People’s Army, the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has continued unabated since 1969. The people affected are mainly Lumads, a self-ascriptive term used by the indigenous peoples of Mindanao. They are regularly displaced by armed clashes and the militarisation of their communities.

Progress towards solutions has been slow for at least 110,000 people displaced in 2013 by conflict in Zamboanga city between forces of the Philippines and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), guided by the Zamboanga Action Plan (ZAP) until August 2014. Obstacles have included government restrictions on return to areas it considers unsafe, the exclusion of many IDPs from permanent housing assistance, and limited alternative settlement options. Relocation to transitional sites for IDPs was criticised for failing to adhere to international standards and being coercive. IDPs’ livelihood recovery was also held back, as many were located far from markets or from the sea and struggled to pay the significant transportation costs. As of April 2017, 7,552 Zamboanga IDPs were still living in transitional shelter sites awaiting relocation to permanent housing.

Patterns of displacement

Multiple displacements due to disaster, armed internal conflict and generalised violence have become common in some areas of the Philippines, and displacement involves complex patterns of movement over time as IDPs continue to seek the best options to meet their evolving needs. The contexts vary greatly, but in many situations internally displaced persons first move to evacuation centres or take refuge with host families, frequently travelling between their former homes and displacement shelters as they start to rebuild and recover their livelihoods. IDPs frequently stay near their former homes and may return to their places of origin relatively quickly, but often to damaged or destroyed homes, disrupted or destroyed livelihoods and ongoing protection and assistance needs. At the same time, some may leave the affected areas to find refuge or seek access to basic services and livelihoods in other regions, as seen after typhoon Haiyan.

IDPs who find themselves in prolonged displacement and unable to return are often relocated into transitional shelters or bunkhouses to meet their medium-term shelter needs. After Haiyan, this was especially the case for around 200,000 people whose destroyed homes were located in areas designated by authorities as unsafe “no dwelling zones”. More than two years on, thousands of displaced people were still in transitional collective shelters or bunkhouses where conditions were sometimes below minimum standards in terms of construction, access to basic services, protection and safety concerns, and a lack of specialist support for older people, people with disabilities or other vulnerable groups. Similar patterns were seen following other disasters: As of March 2015, 140,000 people were still living in temporary bunkhouses and tents after typhoon Bopha in December 2012.

Over a year after being displaced, people internally displaced by the Zamboanga conflict were taking refuge in different types of shelter locations, with around one-third still in evacuation centres to which they were initially displaced. Others are in transitional sites which are intended to be temporary camps before IDPs are provided with more permanent housing. In addition, as many as 15,000 people are thought to be living with host families. Nearly all of those who remain displaced belong to Muslim ethnic minorities, who are among the poorest and most vulnerable IDPs. Of the IDPs from Zamboanga, 7,552 were still in transitional shelters as of April 2017.

Priority needs and vulnerabilities

The government and the international community must ensure that they pay continued attention to the needs of thousands of families still displaced and without durable solutions. A draft bill (no. 4744) on protecting the rights of internally displaced persons, which has been debated for over a decade, would constitute a landmark national law based on international standards and an important basis for action.

The highest priority commonly identified as a key to progress is securing durable housing, though this must go hand in hand with access to livelihoods for all people in prolonged and protracted displacement, and with access to basic services, including schooling for displaced children. Furthermore, such housing initiatives must ensure the specific inclusion and protection of vulnerable groups in the provision of assistance, including people living in informal settlements, households headed by women, older people and children.

The weakening of community-based protection networks can expose IDPs to abuse, exploitation, disease and sometimes death. As of early December 2014, some 209 people internally displaced by the Zamboanga conflict, half of them children under five years of age, were reported to have died, with pneumonia and acute gastroenteritis the leading causes of death.

In Tacloban, displaced people with nowhere else to go returned to highly exposed and growing shoreline slums in “no dwelling zones” where conditions were increasingly vulnerable. Such situations highlight the importance of well-planned and well-executed relocation processes that reduce the risk of further disaster and displacement.

Selected references

Congress of the Philippines, Fifteenth Congress, Third Regular Session. An Act Protecting the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, providing penalties for violations thereof and for other purposes, 5 February 2013

Primer: The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Plan (NDRRMP): 2011-2028

Philippines Climate Change Commission, National Climate Change Action Plan, 2011-2028

Urban Development and Housing Act 1991, Republic Act 7279

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons on his mission to the Philippines, April 2016, available at

Shelter Cluster Philippines, Housing Land and Property Guidance note on relocation for shelter partners, March 2014 https://www.sheltercluster.org/sites/default/files/docs/Relocation%20-%20HLP%20Guidance%20Note%20for%20Shelter%20Partners.pdf

IDMC, Philippines: long-term recovery challenges remain in the wake of massive displacement, Overview, available at http://www.internal-displacement.org/south-and-south-east-asia/philippines/2015/philippines-long-term-recovery-challenges-remain-in-the-wake-of-massive-displacement

Brookings Institution, Resolving post-disaster displacement: Insights from the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), June 2015

DSWD/IDMC/IOM, The evolving picture of displacement in the wake of typhoon Haiyan: An Evidence-based Overview, May 2014

DSWD, Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB) and Virtual Ops Centre (Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC)

United Nations, Philippines humanitarian response information site