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Filipino farmers want U.N. to send actress Jolie

The group wants the goodwill ambassador to witness the plight of internal refugees.

December 08, 2007|From the Associated Press

MANILA -- Thousands of rural people have been displaced by increased military operations, a left-wing Filipino farmers group said Friday in an appeal for help to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Farmers' Movement of the Philippines, or KMP, urged the UNHCR to send goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie to look into the rising number of internal refugees in the country.

The KMP asked for the 32-year-old actress to witness "the real situation of internally displaced people in the country," KMP officer Willy Marbella said in a statement.

Jolie has worked with UNHCR since early 2001.

More than 10,000 people have been forced to leave their homes this year because of military actions and threats, he said.

But the military blames insurgents for the problem. "More than 10,000 peace-loving people are displaced every now and then due to the persistence of the insurgents in carrying out their armed revolution," said army spokesman Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres. "The faster we can get our acts together . . . in defeating the insurgents, the sooner we can put a stop to this unwarranted displacement of people."

Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, the armed forces spokesman, said he couldn't confirm the figures cited but stressed that the military operations aim to run after rebels. Soldiers are told to avoid engaging guerrillas in populated areas, he said.

The military is battling communist rebels, who have been fighting for a Maoist-led state for 39 years, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has fought for two decades for self-rule in the southern Philippines.

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