\n<b>CHICAGO \u2013<\/b> A human rights monitor and foreign policy expert is departing for the Philippines on July 27 for an emergency relief mission to assist more than 90,000 men, women and children who have been displaced by heavy fighting in central Mindanao.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Al Santoli, a best-selling author and a nominee for both the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award for History, will be taking with him medicines, re-hydration salt and water purification tablets for evacuees living in muddy open fields, under heavy rains with minimal plastic tarps to protect them.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Santoli, president of Asia America Initiative, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., will be assisted by AAI\u2019s interfaith Catalyst for Peace led by AAI coordinator Rohaniza Sumndad, who observes that the temporary encampments have no clean water or sanitation facilities, resulting in high incidences of fatal fevers, diarrhea, viral infections and dehydration.<br rn\/><br rn\/>As of June 30, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Philippine government claim at least 359,000 Internally Displaced Persons.<br rn\/><br rn\/>AAI is targeting a group of 30,000 evacuees in Lanao del Sur, and 60,000 in Maguindanao, including half the number in Datu Piang town, according to AAI website.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Said the AAI, the tragic death of a seven month old baby girl, Zaida, epitomizes the danger to the most vulnerable - infants and grandparents - who have no protection from the elements. More than 65 percent are under the age of 18, with a high number of infants and toddlers. <br rn\/><br rn\/>Baby Zaida, her three brothers and sisters, and her parents had lived under harsh conditions in an open area surrounding a public school since April. <br rn\/><br rn\/>Local authorities and the Red Cross were overwhelmed by the large number of families who have left their homes with only the clothes on their back.<br rn\/><br rn\/>The UN has just ordered their agencies, including the WFP to temporarily withdraw from the area because of ongoing bombings and other incidents of violence.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Because, AAI is not receiving government funding, it is appealing for public donations to successfully conduct its mission.<br rn\/><br rn\/>It said its mission is to counter terrorism and communal violence by promoting peace and prosperity in conflict-ridden communities. It believes that international security and respect for human dignity are inseparable. Its field programs create sustainable local models for the international community to emulate.
<b>- <a href="http:\/\/www.gmanetwork.com\/news\/archives\/authors\/josephlariosa">Joseph Lariosa<\/a>, GMANews.TV<\/b>