MARAWI CITY: As the war in Marawi entered its third month, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has raised concern over the plight of thousands of displaced people in need of food as well as those suffering from diseases.
The ICRC cited towns in the eastern part of Lanao del Sur province, where 13,000 displaced people, among the 200,000 residents of Marawi City, sought refuge with relatives or mingled with hundreds of thousands of other residents.
“We have come to the conclusion that the needs are most important on the eastern shore of the lake. Based on our assessment, we see that people are in need of food. We have also seen that there are a lot of cases of people having diarrhea,” said Pascal Porchet, head of the ICRC in the Philippines.
“We have been first focusing in Marawi city and areas close to Marawi city towards Iligan [west of the city]. As the situation continuous, we have been assessing the situation around Lake Lanao. We have been looking at both western and eastern shores of the Lake,” Porchet said.
The situation in all evacuation centers has been “difficult” for families after 60 days, and is becoming “very critical” even to home-based evacuees.
“They (home-based evacuees) are also running out of needs, they have been nice and generous, they have shown a lot of solidarity, but as the situation continues they are getting disparate and those who are living in those situations they are very desperate to be able to go home,” Porchet said.
“We need to support the health care system, we need to support the hospital in that region, Tamparan hospital, but we are also going to address the root causes to provide safe drinking water, and we are going to make sure that other health care providers have access to this area,” he added.
In the past two months, passage to the region was difficult as the access road from the city was closed following intense fighting. Humanitarian groups had to travel kilometers around the lake to reach people.
‘Safe passages’ opened
The provincial government of Lanao del Sur has opened two access points for humanitarian groups.
The new alternative routes will provide access to two districts of the province from Marawi City, as the usual roads were still blocked.
But Zia Alonto Adiong, Marawi City Crisis Management Committee spokesman, told reporters the two new roads would not be open to the public.
The routes are expected to be operational on Wednesday, July 26, when military checkpoints are in place, he said.