Displaced Filipinos hold Marawi 'shoe parade'

Display of footwear staged to mark World Refugee Day, remember those suffering as a result of 2017 conflict
Displaced Filipinos hold Marawi 'shoe parade'

Hundreds of pairs of shoes are displayed on a stretch of road in the southern Philippine city of Marawi on June 20 to mark World Refugee Day. (Photo courtesy of Aslani Montila)

Hundreds of pairs of shoes were lined up along a stretch of road in the southern Philippine city of Marawi on June 20 to remember those who died during the 2017 conflict that devastated the city.

The "shoe parade" was held on World Refugee Day to dramatize the call by Marawi residents for the government to hasten the rebuilding of the city and reparation of those affected by the conflict.

The global observance of World Refugee Day started in 2000 to draw attention to the millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict and persecution.

The footwear was displayed on a road in Marawi leading to temporary shelters where an estimated 2,000 families still live.

Aslani Montila, executive director of civil society group Siyap ko Pagtaw, said the display was “part of remembering" the lives of those who died and for those who experience the "desperation of being homeless."

"Each item of footwear symbolizes every civilian killed, every child whose dreams were shattered, every family's disrupted life, every person's destroyed future who still remain displaced," said Montila.

Khalid Ansano, secretary-general of the non-government Development Assistance Team, said the Marawi crisis "obliterated the dreams and futures of both the fallen and their families."

"They are at the mercy of the whims of uncertainty, discomfort, suffering and shame," said Ansano.

About half a million people were affected and displaced by the five-month siege after terrorist gunmen attacked Marawi in May 2017.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations estimated that as of May this year, at least 66,000 people remain in temporary shelters around the ravaged city.

The Initiatives for International Dialogue, meanwhile, called for "stronger solidarity" for the people of Marawi, saying the "tragic events resulted in the unnecessary loss of innocent lives."

The organization vowed to sustain humanitarian assistance to help in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the city and the "safe and dignified return and reintegration" of those who were displaced.

This year’s observance of World Refugee Day carries the theme "#StepWithRefugees — Take A Step on World Refugee Day."

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