Children stand outside temporary shelters for displaced residents in the outskirts of Marawi in the southern Philippines. Close to 400,000 people were affected by the fighting between government security forces and terrorist gunmen since May 23. (Photo by Vincent Go)
Catholic and Protestant church groups in the Philippines are combining programs and resources to help rebuild the war-torn city of Marawi. An alliance of at least 23 church groups is planning to "centralize" humanitarian work and "build a central platform to fully maximize resources." Jing Rey Henderson, coordinator of Caritas Philippines
, said the "main mission" of the alliance is to "propel significant efforts in realizing peace and development." He said "centralization" and use of a common platform for humanitarian aid would avoid overlapping of responses. The church groups agreed to review "best practices" in humanitarian response and review the weaknesses that emerged during missions made in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said the "fundamental objective" is to help war-torn communities in Mindanao. "Resources are finite, we must have a systematic way of using them," said the priest. Catholic and Protestant church groups have already extended more than half a million US dollars worth of combined direct response that has reached at least 10,000 families in Marawi. The joint humanitarian effort has mobilized over 30,000 local churches, national organizations, and international affiliates. "We are happy to see an alliance among the three Christian councils in the Philippines and other faith-based groups," said Darlene Marquez Caramanzana of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines
. Since the conflict in Marawi erupted on May 23, various church groups have delivered emergency relief packs, psychosocial support, and conducted capacity-building activities to an estimated 400,000 affected individuals. On Oct. 23, the Philippine military announced the end of combat operations in Marawi following President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement last week that the city has been liberated from Islamic State-inspired terrorist gunmen.
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