Philippines: Tent city for displaced locals to rise in Marawi as crisis wears on
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Philippines: Tent city for displaced locals to rise in Marawi as crisis wears on

A TENT city will rise in embattled Marawi City on Mindanao island to give decent shelter to residents whose houses were destroyed by the clashes between government forces and local terrorist groups, officials said Monday, Day 28 of the crisis.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where Marawi City belongs, will spearhead the establishment of the tent city once the situation in the area returns to normal, said ARMM executive secretary Laisa Alamia.

“Given the need for decent, temporary housing, a tent city will be established in Marawi City in coordination with local government units, national line agencies, and international aid organisations. The regional government has been working to meet the needs of the people of Marawi City and nearby areas,” she said.

“We are saving lives and livelihoods together as Bangsamoros (Muslim people in Mindanao), and we encourage everyone to take part in this painstaking process of healing and rebuilding,” Alamia noted.

SEE ALSO: Duterte’s readiness to recall Marawi troops shows respect for rule of law – palace

A total of 200,234 individuals or 45,988 families have fled to safety since the clashes between the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and government troops in Marawi City erupted on May 23, data from the ARMM government showed.

Of the figure, 3,493 families or 16,677 individuals are staying at various evacuation centres in surrounding areas in Marawi, it added.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the unfavorable conditions in evacuation camps expose individuals staying there, especially the children, to potential health risks.

He said ARMM will construct toilets, bathing and washing facilities in some of the evacuation camps to promote hygiene and sanitation, and ensure the health and well-being of families staying there.

“We need to help ease the burden and alleviate the suffering of the people of Marawi,” Hataman said.

The governor appealed for more donations to help the regional government extend humanitarian assistance to the displaced civilians and for the establishment of the tent city.

Government forces, aided by intelligence information provided by US forces, have been pounding Marawi with bombs and artillery, in joint efforts to wrest the city from the Maute Group.

SEE ALSO: Philippine security forces arrest Maute leader

Plumes of black smoke continue to rise from ruined homes and buildings as the fighting rages on. The damage and suffering of civilians living in evacuation centres have been documented in the locality. The government has yet to ascertain the cost of damage in Marawi as an estimated 100 gunmen continue to occupy some parts of the city.

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Smoke billows after a helicopter from the Philippine airforce released a rocket, as government troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, who have taken over parts of Marawi city, Philippines June 18, 2017. Source: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

But the government is ready to allot at least PHP10 billion (US$200.6 million) to rebuild Marawi, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said earlier, noting reconstruction works could take a minimum of six months.

Government figures show that 225 terrorists, 59 soldiers and 26 civilians were killed since the clashes started on May 23, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put Mindanao under martial law.

The gunmen are still holding civilian hostages, including Catholic priest Teresito Soganub. The priest’s family still harbours hope he is alive.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the Maute Group’s resistance is “dwindling” as soldiers move closer to the heart of the enemy.

It, however, declined to give a new deadline when it can fully take control of Marawi to allow displaced residents to return to the city.