The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
UCA News


Slow pace of Marawi recovery comes in for criticism

Thousands remain homeless two years after 5-month southern Philippine conflict erupted

Bong S. Sarmiento, Manila

Bong S. Sarmiento, Manila

Updated: May 21, 2019 05:53 AM GMT
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Slow pace of Marawi recovery comes in for criticism

The city of Marawi still looks like a ghost town as the second anniversary of the outbreak of the five-month conflict approaches. (Photo by Bong S. Sarmiento)

Share this article :
Thousands of people remain in temporary shelters more than 18 months after Philippine troops ended a five-month conflict with Islamic militants in the southern city of Marawi that displaced close to half a million people.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that about 66,000 people are still homeless.

Some are staying with relatives in nearby areas, while an estimated 4,500 people are still at four evacuation centers, the U.N. body said.

On May 23, 2017, terrorist gunmen claiming allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group attacked Marawi and held the city against government forces for five months.

The siege that tested the mettle of soldiers in urban warfare left the center of the city in a shambles.

Some 1,100 people were killed in the conflict, mostly militant gunmen.

Security forces liberated Marawi on Oct. 17 the same year, but ahead of the second anniversary of the start of the conflict, rehabilitation of the badly damaged city is yet to start.

The worst-hit area of the city is a central section comprising 24 sub-districts spanning 250 hectares.

Considered the heart of Marawi, the area is still off-limits to residents of the country’s only Islamic majority city.

Reynaldo Barnido, executive director of "Duyog Marawi," a Catholic initiative to help rehabilitate the city, said the organization will continue to "accompany the victims" of war.

"We employ both Christian and Muslim volunteers because right from the start, our mission was to establish a reconciling presence in Marawi to bridge the gap between [the two religions]," said Barnido.

The Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi, in partnership with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, commonly known as the Redemptorists, established Duyog Marawi a few months after the siege ended.

The group focuses on health and wellness, healing and reconciliation, communication and protection of vulnerable sectors.

Sapia Taulani, an OCHA humanitarian affairs analyst, has called on the government and other humanitarian aid agencies to continue supporting the people of Marawi.

"The internally displaced people still need support like water and livelihoods while transitioning [to normal lives]" she told

Food assistance, both from the state and aid organizations, has dropped since last year as the government shifted from emergency relief operations to the early recovery and rehabilitation phase.

Eduardo del Rosario, head of the government agency tasked with rebuilding Marawi, appealed for patience over the slow pace of recovery.

He said that even if construction work has yet to start, the worst-affected area "can be completely rehabilitated and reconstructed" by December 2021.

Support UCA News...

UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.

UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.

Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.

As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.

UCA News Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution