Displaced Marawi families move to 'transitory shelters'

Hundreds of families displaced by Philippine conflict remain in evacuation centers or with relatives
Displaced Marawi families move to 'transitory shelters'

Displaced residents in Marawi attend the ceremonial handover of temporary shelters in the village of Boganga on Jan. 17. (Photo by Divina M. Suson)


More than 200 families who lost their homes during the five-month conflict in Marawi moved to "transitory shelters" provided by the government this week.

Close to half a million people were displaced when fighting erupted between Philippine government forces and Islamic State-inspired gunmen in the city in 2017.

On Jan. 17, the National Housing Authority turned over 550 shelters to families living in evacuation centers in the village of Boganga.

Aid agencies define a "transitory shelter" as a home that is provided during the period between a conflict or natural disaster and the achievement of a long-term housing solution

The government plans to build additional shelters this year.

Salima Ampaso expressed relief about the move. "It was hot in the evacuation center, and we worried about the safety of our children," she said.

Although it took almost two years before she was moved to a shelter, Ampaso said it was worth the wait.

"It was difficult in the evacuation center," she said. "People would call us names and would even tell us to leave their village."

Hundreds of families, however, remain in evacuation centers around Marawi or with relatives in other provinces while waiting for the city to be rebuilt.

Authorities said they are prioritizing those living in evacuation centers outside Marawi for transfer to transitory shelters.

Early this week, legislators questioned the priorities of the agency tasked with raising the city of Marawi from the ashes. 

Among those listed as "first priority" projects are debris management, a sewerage treatment plant, port facilities, a sanitary land-fill, and school building, among others.

"I don't think you can construct hospitals and schools without fixing first the roads," said Makmod Mending Jr. of the Children of Mindanao Party in Congress.

Authorities vowed to complete the rehabilitation of the battle-scarred city by December 2021.

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