Thousands of displaced people continue to live in evacuation centers as fighting continues in the besieged southern Philippine city of Marawi. (Photo by Mark Saludes)
Humanitarian agencies responding to the crisis in the southern Philippine city of Marawi have been urged to identify the needs of displaced communities before delivering aid.
"We can truly help if we can provide what they need rather than what we can give," said Dodong Arellano, coordinator of Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Church.
Arellano said that aside from aid, displaced people need to get back their dignity. He said that humanitarian groups should also provide "things that will help them practice religion."
Most displaced residents of Marawi, which has been a battleground between security forces and terrorist gunmen for more than a month, are Muslims.
Arellano said emergency relief responses "must be culturally sensitive," adding that help should be "inclusive, regardless of race and faith."
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