ICRC vows to continue helping improve lives of post-conflict Marawi in southern Philippines

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-09 10:46:10|Editor: xuxin
Video PlayerClose

MANILA, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has vowed to help thousands of victims of 2017 Marawi conflict in the southern Philippines, especially those who continue to languish in the temporary evacuation centers, ICRC President Peter Maurer told the people of Marawi during his visit to the city this week.

Between May and October 2017, Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province was the scene of heavy fighting between Philippine government security forces and the Maute terrorist group, forcing thousands of residents to flee. The five-month armed conflict killed more than 1,200 people and reduced the city to rubbles.

Two years on, many of those displaced people are still waiting in temporary shelters.

But for decades, many more communities in the southern provinces of Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and portions of eastern Mindanao have been forced to flee their homes multiple times.

"Sporadic clashes deeply affect these families' livelihoods, their ability to put food on the table, and their ability to send their children to school," Maurer said.

"In my visit to Marawi City this week, I saw a community dealing with the physical and psychological impact of conflict. I met a family of a missing person that hasn't lost hope that news about their relative will arrive soon," Maurer told reporters after his visit.

He said local Red Cross volunteers he met have been unrelenting in their support to the displaced people.

Around 100,000 displaced people, staying with relatives or in transition sites, are uncertain when they will be able to return as their homes are not rebuilt yet. Many lack sources of income, while access to basic services such as healthcare and potable water remains a challenge in displacement sties.

"One group of persons severely traumatized by the conflict continues to suffer in silence," the ICRC said.

The Philippine government said it will complete the rehabilitation and rebuilding work of the city by December 2021.

"In my discussions with high-ranking officials, I felt a commitment and resolve to find effective, long-term solutions to humanitarian issues of concern, despite considerable constraints they deal with," Maurer said, adding "the people need to be able to count on the authorities to be responsive to their needs."

Though responding to humanitarian needs due to conflict is the work of the ICRC, he said he believes equally that all members of society have a shared responsibility to provide reprieve to those affected by fighting.

"We all need to do more in our respective roles. We need to do better at addressing the consequences of conflict, but also, we need to do better in preventing or reducing those consequences," Maurer said.