Female members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police wait to board a plane at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City Aug. 29, 2017. The female troops will be sent to Marawi City in south Philippines. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)
MANILA, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- An all-female contingent of military and police personnel arrived in southern Philippines on Tuesday in an effort to give a "female touch" to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said the 60 female army soldiers and 40 policewomen will provide "psychosocial intervention" to the thousands of internally displaced persons across Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur province.
Arevalo said the women special forces have undergone intensive training on peace building and countering extremism before their deployment to the combat zone.
Since the war broke out last May 23, the government said at least 500,000 people have been displaced. About 800 extremist fighters, civilians, soldiers and policemen have so far been killed as troops continue to retake the rest of the city from militants allied with the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS).
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the AFP's Western Mindanao Command, said the all-female soldiers and police "will provide greatly needed support to displace women, who, by culture and tradition, are not allowed to interact with other men."
Galvez welcomed the uniformed women at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental province.
He said the personnel will also assist in rehabilitation and gender and cultural sensitivities work. Some members of the team are Maranaos and Maguindanaoans, meaning natives from the region, he said. In fact, many of the women in camouflage uniforms were wearing white hijab.
"They are a big part of the rehabilitation, and we can see that we are nearing the end of our clearing (operations). The most important part of his crisis is recovery and rehabilitation, to bring the normalcy in Marawi City," Galvez said.