Displaced persons due to Marawi Crisis reach 600,000

 

Marawi City (CNN Philippines, August 13) — The number of "bakwits" or internally displaced persons in Lanao del Sur and nearby provinces has reached 600,000 since conflict broke out in May, the National Emergency Operations Center said.

Aside from the conflict, sustaining the ballooning number of evacuees has also become a challenge for local authorities.

As fighting between government troops and the terror Maute forces continue in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, local governments must tend to those displaced from the war-torn city.

For these authorities, the growing number of evacuees is getting as challenging as the war itself.

Authorities are concerned over how evacuees can get back on their feet once they return to Marawi, where fighting has destroyed homes and reduced buildings to rubble.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, Lanao del Sur has the highest poverty incidence rate in the country with a 74.3 percent poverty incidence.

Local authorities have suggested the national government conduct a survey to ask the evacuees if they want to go back home or resettle elsewhere.

Officials say this will help in designing the city's rehabilitation program well.

They also ask the government to provide timely relief assistance to evacuees.

But while help is given to evacuees, some like Saimah Ananggo simply hope the war will end soon.

"Masayang masaya talaga kasi nakakuha kami ng tulong... Pero ang problema namin masakit ang pagalis namin doon sa Marawi kasi paano kung wala kaming hanapbuhay dito, paano kung hindi dumating yung relief," Ananggo said.

[Translation: I'm happy that we have help… but the problem is it's very painful for us to leave Marawi becaues what if we don't have livelihoods here? What if the relief doesn't come?]

"Sana po na matapos na ito para makabalik kami doon sa Marawi kasi doon kami maghanapbuhay," she added.

[Translation: I hope this war ends so we can return home to marawi since that's where our livelihoods are.]

The government has pledged at least P25 billion for Marawi's rehabilitation. On Thursday, it said it was studying the possible issuance of P30 billion-worth of debt securities to help fund the city's reconstruction.

READ: PH government studies P30-B bond float to boost Marawi rehab fund

It has also formed a task force to rebuild Marawi once fighting in the city has ceased.

Prior to the crisis, Marawi, had a population of more than 210,000 according to the PSA.