The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday said efforts to rehabilitate war-torn Marawi City must step up as those affected are still at risk even a year after the conflict broke out.
In a press statement, the ICRC, an independent humanitarian organization, underscored that around 230,000 individuals have remained displaced.
“Efforts to rehabilitate Marawi 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 Pascal Porchet, head of the ICRC delegation in the Philippines.
It said food assistance have dwindled and livelihood opportunities are reaching only a few of those affected by the siege.
Those displaced still depend on relatives and friends for support while those staying in evacuation centers continue to struggle with poor living conditions as well as increasing their risk of illness, the group added.
Porchet vowed that the ICRC would continue extending assistance to the victims of the five-month Marawi battle.
“The ICRC remains committed to supporting those who fled the fighting, and to do more by addressing gaps in the overall early recovery response, in coordination with the authorities and other aid organizations,” Porchet said.
He, however, pointed out that woes such as lack of supply of water and absence of proper sewage treatment in the transitional site must be immediately resolved.
“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,” he stressed.
Together with the Philippine Red Cross, the ICRC is also following up those missing persons following the siege.
“We are stepping up efforts to accompany and support these families. There is a need for a neutral and independent organization such as the Red Cross to work in this field. We encourage those with information about missing people in Marawi to approach the Red Cross,” said Adriana Villa, head of the ICRC’s response team.
Government security forces killed in the Marawi siege last year were honored by the Philippine Army during a wreath-laying ceremony in Taguig City on Wednesday to commemorate the battle’s first anniversary.
A report on said a short program and a mass at the Libingan ng mga Bayani were held in honor of the slain members of the military and the police.
Those honored during the ceremony were:
- Captain Rommel Sandoval
- 1Lt. John Frederick Savellano
- 1Lt. Raymond Abad
- 2Lt. Harold Mark Juan
- Corporal Reymund Paracuelles
- Cpl. Francisco Silos
- Cpl. Domimar Lape
- Private First-Class Edmond Tibayan
- PFC Sherwin Marco Canapi
- PFC Jaime Invento
- PFC Jethro Fil Estacio
- Private Jan Michael Alvaro Lolo
- Police Inspector Edward Placido
Attending the event were Major General Robert Arevalo, vice commander of the Philippine Army; and Lieutenant Gen. Danilo Pamonag, commander of the Southern Luzon Command.
Arevalo said the Marawi siege had led to several promotions and prompted the Army to improve its training on an urban situation and sniper capability.
The five-month-long battle saw government forces defeat militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi Jihadist groups.