MARAWI, the Philippines, May 23 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government faces huge uphill struggles on the evacuees' resettlement in the war-torn Marawi city and should make more efforts to help the displaced residents, a delegate from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday.
Pascal Porchet, head of the ICRC delegation in the Philippines, said efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city and assist its people must be stepped up to reduce the suffering of thousands of those who were displaced over the past year.
"The efforts are there, but these must match the growing needs of those who face prolonged displacement and are close to despair," said Porchet.
In May last year, some 1,000 pro-IS extremists belonging to the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups attacked the city, displacing thousands, mostly poor residents.
More than 1,200 people were killed, including 165 soldiers and policemen in the battle to retake the city. At least 50 people are also reported missing.
According to the ICRC, around 230,000 people remain displaced and are in need of stronger support one year after armed conflict broke out in Marawi city.
With the response shifting from emergency phase towards early recovery, the ICRC said food donations have dwindled and livelihood opportunities are reaching only a few.
ICRC said the majority of displaced families still depend on relatives or friends for support, while those in evacuation sites continue to struggle with poor living conditions in makeshift camps, increasing their risk of illness.
"It has been a year since the armed clashes began and we still don't know what lies ahead. I'm starting to feel the weight of it, and there are times when I feel like giving up. But for the sake of my children, I strive to stay strong," said Diane Sumangan, an evacuee in Saguiaran. She is a resident of Bubonga in Marawi, one of the 24 villages in the main area affected by the clashes.
The displaced families struggle to feed their families, buy medicines or resume their small businesses due to lack of livelihood opportunities or capital. Uncertainty about the future has added to their worries, Porchet added.
Authorities estimate that 65,000 residents from the main area where structures were reduced to rubble will be unable to return home for the next two to three years. The transitional site in Sagonsongan of Marawi City can only accommodate 6,000 of them.
"The ICRC remains committed to supporting those who fled the fighting, and doing more by addressing gaps in the overall early recovery response, in coordination with the authorities and other aid organizations," Porchet said.
However, Porchet said it is primarily the authorities' role to assist people affected by conflict. "The pending issues concerning the transitional site such as lack of regular supply of water and absence of proper sewage collection and treatment should be resolved soon," Porchet stressed.
Philippine Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza appealed for patience, saying that rebuilding takes time.
"The government is doing its best to restore as much as possible what was destroyed and I think we are on the road," Dureza told a news conference.
"But we'd like to call on all those who had gone through suffering to please be patient. There is no magic formula here. There is no reconstruction that will happen overnight. There will be a lot of challenges. Not everybody will agree; there will contrary voices and feelings," Dureza said.