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ICC Note: More than two months have passed after the Philippine government calls an end to the Marawi siege, yet hundreds of thousands are still waiting for rebuilding to begin. The reconstruction of the city will only start in the second quarter of 2018 and the entire region is still under martial law until the end of 2018. Meanwhile, Catholics in the region have begun to assist in the healing process for those most affected by the fighting, focusing on health and wellness, healing and reconciliation, communications and protection of vulnerable sectors. One of their goals is to create interreligious harmony between Muslims and Christians.

01/03/2018 Philippines (UCA News) – The five-month deadly conflict in the southern Philippine city of Marawi in 2017 not only left a city destroyed but also scarred survivors leaving them with nightmares that will likely haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The scenic lakeside city was jolted by gunfire on May 23 when Islamic State-inspired gunmen attacked, resulting in an exodus of about 400,000 people from their homes.

The following months became a nightmare for government and private aid agencies that struggled to address the needs of the mostly Muslim population.

After the fighting, the Philippine government reported that about 1,100 people had been killed. Most were terrorist gunmen who launched the attack to establish an Islamic state in the city.

Jamil Ampaso, a father of 12, condemned the terrorist attack but he also expressed dismay over the devastation brought about by the military aerial strikes on his hometown.

The government announced that it would cost about US$1 billion to rehabilitate the city.

“The war did not only disrupt the schooling of our children, it also destroyed our livelihoods,” Ampaso told ucanews.com. “I don’t know how we can start again,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire southern region of Mindanao under martial law. The Philippine Congress decided to extend it until the end of 2018.

Rebuilding still to start

More than two months since the end of the fighting, Marawi’s main battle area that straddled 14 of the city’s almost 100 villages remained largely off limits to civilians.

“Many of those who returned left again after seeing their houses destroyed and looted,” said Aminoden Macalandap, a local lawyer.

He told ucanews.com many people either went back to temporary shelters provided by the government or aid agencies outside the city or live with relatives in other parts of Mindanao.

Macalandap, who heads the provincial chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, said basic services are yet to be restored while markets are still empty.

Reconstruction work has barely begun. A 17-hectare transitional resettlement site remained closed due to ongoing construction work.

Eduardo del Rosario, head of the task force organized to help rebuild the city, said that 1,100 transitional shelters will be ready for occupation this month.

The reconstruction of the city will only start in the second quarter of 2018.

Del Rosario said various agencies are still assessing the situation and recommendations from different groups are still to be looked at.

Macalandap complained that there has been “no clear citizen’s consultation so far” in the planning stage of the rebuilding of the city.

 

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