De Lima bewails plight of 100,000 IDPs in Marawi

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed the pitiful plight of some 100,000 residents of Marawi City who continue to live in tents two years after heavy fighting with Muslim extremist Maute Group that left their city in Lanao del Sur in ruins.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the Duterte government should not neglect its obligation in addressing the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) heavily affected by the military operations.

“Ang mabagal na rehabilitasyon at kawalan pa rin ng ligtas at maayos na tirahan ang nagpapasariwa sa sugat at malagim na alalang iniwan ng kaguluhan sa Marawi. Nasaan na nga ba ang malasakit ni Duterte para sa mga kapatid nating biktima ng karahasan?”, she asked.

“Ilang libong bata, nakatatanda, may karamdaman, at naulila ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay ang patuloy na magdudusa hindi lamang sa pagkawasak na dulot ng trahedya, kundi pati na rin ng patuloy na kapabayaan at kawalang malasakit ng gobyerno ni Duterte?”, she added.

In its report issued last May 22, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) noted that over 100,000 people have remained homeless and unable to reclaim their nomal lives despite several aid efforts by the government in Marawi City.

ICRC’s Philippine delegation head Martin Thalmann said the displaced people of Marawi who were left with “invisible” scars due to the delay in the city’s rehabilitation now “want to stand on their own feet again and stop depending on assistance” because they “have grown tired and frustrated.”

Thalmann added that Marawi residents in evacuation areas or staying with their relatives are still encountering problems in getting drinkable water, sustainable livelihood, and most especially permanent shelters.

The lady Senator from Bicol maintained the government should reassess if the combined efforts of concerned government agencies and private and foreign donors are properly applied to ensure rehabilitation and rebuilding the lives of IDP families.

“The issues in the war-ravaged city, especially involving shelters and livelihood, remain unheeded. It’s high time for the government to analyze and rethink their strategies to find out if these can truly rehabilitate Marawi,” she said.

“Hindi makatarungan na dalawang taon na ang nakalipas pero libo-libong residente pa rin ng Marawi ang patuloy na nagdurusa. Ang malala pa dito, ang iba sa kanila ay diumano’y araw-araw na tinitiis ang manirahan sa mga maliliit na tents habang wala silang katiyakan kung kilan sila makakauwi sa kani-kanilang tahanan,” she added.

Last March, several residents of Marawi City staged a rally in Marawi City to demand a return to their homes and protest their plight of living in tents and temporary shelters for more than two years.

“It is not easy to live in a tent with five children. It is hot and the tent is small for us,” Marawi resident Farina Pagazad reportedly said.

The Marawi siege erupted on May 23, 2017 when Maute Group clashed with government forces, leaving the city in ruins. Despite the end of the fighting after five months, heavily armed troops stand guard in the city to prevent the possible return of the IS-inspired terrorists. In 2017, De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 512 urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into the government’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Marawi, especially among the sick, elderly, disabled, women and children.

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