Manila (ICRC) - One month into the armed conflict in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province, many humanitarian needs still exist as the 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," said Roberto Petronio, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mindanao.
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 City. 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," said Casamudin Riga, a 51-year-old trader from Barangay Marinaut, Marawi.
In the first week of the clashes, the ICRC also tried to intervene for the safe evacuation of civilians trapped by the fighting. However due to the fast-changing security situation, a humanitarian ceasefire had not been possible.
"We are extremely worried about those who are still trapped in Marawi, and continue to urge all parties to the conflict to allow them to leave the area safely. We hope the fighting will end soon," said Petronio.
The ICRC also continues to follow-up on the conduct of hostilities and the treatment of civilians and of people detained in relation to the conflict.
With various government agencies responding to the crisis and the arrival of more aid organizations, Petronio said coordination has become a major task. Regular meetings are held to identify gaps and to address current and future needs.
"Looking forward, the future needs of the displaced families will include support for their return to Marawi City, while those who cannot go home need temporary relocation or settlement," he said.
The ICRC will continue to focus on areas more difficult to reach such as the east and west sides of Lake Lanao and will continue its dialogue with the parties involved in the fighting to emphasize the protection of civilians.
The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization that protects and assists victims of armed conflict. It has an international mandate to promote knowledge for and respect of IHL.
For further information, please contact:
Lany de la Cruz (in Iligan), mobile: 0999 887 0985
Allison Lopez (in Manila), mobile: 0908 868 6884
Heidi Anicete (in Manila), mobile: 0928 504 7648