THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday said that many who have been displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi City still need humanitarian support as fighting between government security forces and the Maute Group continues without an immediate end in sight.
“The situation is far from over. Fighting is ongoing, and civilians who are trapped or are displaced continue to face challenging situations. There is still a need to support more than 200,000 displaced people with food, drinking water, sanitation facilities and health care in the coming weeks,” Roberto Petronio, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mindanao, said.
A lot has been done since the clashes broke out on May 23. The ICRC has been supporting people in need since the fighting began by evacuating more than 700 people from Marawi. Already in the first week, the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) distributed two-week food rations, household and hygiene items for displaced people in Saguiaran, including those staying with relatives.
Over the last four weeks, the ICRC has delivered large quantities of medical supplies to rural health units and hospitals in the region that were overwhelmed by the influx of displaced people. Together, PRC volunteers and ICRC specialists continue to address water and sanitation issues in the Saguiaran evacuation center.
“Our situation inside the evacuation center is not easy—it’s humid during the day, but it’s too cold at night. As evacuees, we don’t have much choice. I’m just grateful because at least my family is complete and we’re safe. We hope that we can return to our homes soon, and start again,” Casamudin Riga, 51, a trader from Barangay Marinaut, Marawi, said.
In the first week of the clashes, the ICRC tried to intervene for the safe evacuation of civilians trapped by the fighting. However, because of fast-changing security situation, a humanitarian ceasefire had not been possible.
NEIL A. ALCOBER