Excerpt from the FOREWORD by Dr. Jemilah Mahmood
Former Chair of ADRRN and Former President of Mercy Malaysia
Chief, Humanitarian Response Branch,

More and more, humanitarian workers today have had to undertake their tasks of helping others not just in the face of natural disasters but in the context of violence and strife. Increasingly, this violence has personally affected humanitarian workers themselves. While humanitarian workers have traditionally been accorded protection and respect for their selfless commitment to save and protect lives, the last two decades have seen an increase in attacks directed against humanitarian workers.
One estimate, for example, cited a 92% increase (practically a doubling!) of violent attacks against aid workers over the eight-year period from 1997-2005. Based on a report by the Center for International Cooperation and the Overseas Development Institute, for last year alone an estimated 122 aid workers were killed while in the field serving others. “Around the world, humanitarian workers are being targeted as never before.”

This fact came home painfully to us in the Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) in September 2008 when two of our partners were kidnapped on the island province of Basilan in the southern Philippines. Merlie “Milet” B. Mendoza, a founding and current member of the ADRRN Executive Committee, along with Esperancita “Espie” Hupida of the Nagdilaab Foundation, an ADRRN member, were on their way home from meeting with displaced communities in the interior of Basilan when they were waylaid and abducted by heavily armed men along the highway (to be identified later as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group). While they were held captive separately (Espie for 45 days and Milet for 61 days), each and every one of us, fellow humanitarian workers across Asia and the Pacific, waited in anguish and attempted all means to find a way to secure their safe release. When Espie and Milet were later released on different periods, we all breathed a sigh of relief only to learn that kidnappings of other aid workers ensued.

Merlie “ Milet” B. Mendoza was the Execeutive Co-ordinator of Tabang Mindanaw, a broad coalition of coprporate and media foundations, and civil society groups for humanitarian , peace and development programs in Mindanao, Philippines, since April 1998 until May 2007. Milet has ten years of peace building and development work experience with various departments under the office of the President, Philippines: the Office of the Presidential Advisor on Rural Development; and the Peace Commission (1989-1991), National Unification Commission (1992-1993), Office of the Presidential Advisor on Peace Process (1994-95) and te Government Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the Communist Rebels (1996-1998). E-mail: mbmendoza08@gmail.com

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