IN PHOTO-Ground Zero in Marawi City, still a no-man’s land after a 5-month heavy fighting between the AFP and Maute Group

Thousands of Marawi IDPs face uncertainty, demand continued support

COTABATO City – “They struggle every day to make ends meet with whatever help they can get, as uncertainty about their homecoming adds to their worries,” said Meher Khatcherian, Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Iligan City in a press release issued on Tuesday, October 23.

“They deserve support and clarity about the future. Though there have been some positive developments, the people of Marawi had hoped for more to be done by now,” Khatcherian added.

The ICRC said that some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are staying in the homes of their   relatives, many are still in evacuation centers or in transitional sites.

It said that families that have been displaced do not have regular access to potable water and proper sanitation facilities. Adults lack adequate livelihood opportunities, while their children’s education remains disrupted. 

There were reported families of IDPs who went missing in Marawi that need to be accompanied during the process of clarifying the fate of their missing loved ones.

Having witnessed firsthand the plight of the people since clashes broke out in May 2017, Khatcherian and his colleagues witnessed what had happened to the evacuees, they worked to help the affected people from Marawi, bringing in whatever respite possible. 

Together with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the ICRC continues to focus on the evolving needs of the people, about 65,000 individuals uprooted from their place of origin. And this people are continuously demanding for urgent action and support to overcome the burden left in the wake of the conflict.

To somehow ease the burdens felt by the IDPs, the ICRC initiated to address the gaps while waiting for the start of the rehabilitation phase, in coordination with other aid organizations and the authorities. The ICRC and the PRC have distributed cash grants to thousands of returnee families, helping them restore their livelihoods.

The PRC distributed tools to repair for the shelters of residents. The authorities have been providing technical support to ensure smooth functioning and potential expansion of the city’s water network. 

ICRC stressed that they also provide health-care facilities, essential medicines and supplies to the IDPS in Lanao del Sur.

“But there is one thing that remains a top priority for the displaced families and it’s the need to get clarity about their future so that they can move ahead. After having their lives completely disrupted by the five-month conflict, and their properties destroyed, they need to regain a sense of ownership about their future. Their voices need to be heard,” Khatcherian concluded.