LOOK: A time to give hope as Marawi City gets back on its feet

LOOK: A time to give hope as Marawi City gets back on its feet
UNHCR advocate Atom Araullo joins the UN Refugee Agency in a visit to a community that was affected by the Marawi crisis. Here are some photos from their humanitarian mission.

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Two months since the liberation of Marawi from local armed groups whose leaders pledged allegiance to the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS), affected families continue to face challenges posed by their displacement.

“Marawi may have been liberated, but many of those displaced have yet to take the first step on the long road to recovery,” said Yasser Saad, head of the Philippine office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“We are working closely with local and national government bodies, including the multi-agency Task Force Bangon Marawi, to put the needs of the displaced families and returnees at the heart of the rehabilitation plan for the city,” he added.

RECOVERY. The armed conflict in Marawi City lasted for nearly 5 months, forcing more than 353,920 to flee their homes. Out of over 90 villages, only 17 have been cleared by security forces for the safe return of residents. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

Marawi residents had put their lives on hold since the conflict erupted in May 2017. Breadwinners lost their jobs and livelihood, children were forced to stop schooling, and families that resided in the main battle area were left homeless.

But the city is slowly coming back to life. A few villages have been cleared for the safe return of residents.

In various conversations with the humanitarian workers of the UN Refugee Agency, many displaced families expressed optimism that they will recover from the devastation with the help of fellow Maranaos and other generous Filipinos.

Gift of hope

UNHCR calls on the public to continue standing in solidarity with the people of Marawi City, sharing with them the gift of hope.

“Especially now that it’s Christmas – the season of giving – we would like to appeal to everyone to donate to UNHCR for the benefit of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from here in Marawi and also for refugees around the world who might need help,” UNHCR advocate and broadcast journalist Atom Araullo.

Araullo joined the UNHCR team in a recent visit to a community that was affected by the armed conflict. See some of the photos from their humanitarian mission below:  

RESILIENCE. UNHCR advocate and multi-awarded broadcast journalist Atom Araullo shares a light moment with Moreg Sarakan, a 100-year-old Maranao woman who fled Marawi City when fighting erupted in May 2017. Araullo first met the grandmother at the Buru-un evacuation center in July. He returned to the camp in December to visit her. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

LONGING FOR HOME. Babo (grandmother) Moreg Sarakan, a displaced Maranao, remains hopeful that she will be able to return to Marawi City with her family. But she does not mind staying in the evacuation center as long as her grandchildren are well cared for. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

AFTER THE WAR. Despite Marawi’s liberation, many of the displaced families continue to live in evacuation camps, community-based facilities, and in the homes of their relatives. Only an estimated 25% of the evacuees have so far returned to Marawi City. UNHCR continues to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced families, advocate for their protection, and support the government’s response and pathways for rehabilitation and recovery. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

HOPEFUL. Families from Barangay Datu Saber that have returned to Marawi City share a common concern - the fighting may be over, but it does not mean that they no longer need support as they try to resume their lives. They hope that their plight will not be forgotten. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

RETURNING HOME. For 5 months, Norjana Taurak stayed in an evacuation camp in Iligan City. She was allowed to return to her home in Marawi’s Brarangay Datu Saber early November. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

BACK HOME. Arcelie Baldoviso, Arlene Orcilino, and Norjana Taurak sought shelter in various evacuation camps in Iligan City while the fighting in Marawi City was ongoing. They have returned home in November 2017. They are grandmothers and breadwinners of their families. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

IDENTITY. Tens of thousands of families who fled Marawi City at the height of the armed conflict in May 2017 were unable to bring with them legal documents and identification cards, limiting their freedom to move and making them vulnerable to abuse. UNHCR continues to work with its partners to provide PhilHealthID cards to those who were affected by the conflict. In December 2017, about 1,200 heads of families from Marawi’s Barangays Basak Malutlut and Matampay received their IDs, restoring their right to freedom of movement. To date, more than 9,000 IDs have been distributed. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

SCARRED. Vast portions of Marawi City remain inaccessible, including the main battle zone. The ruins serve as visible manifestations of the city’s scars. But for the affected residents, the emotional wounds that they have sustained since their displacement run deeper. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

FAMILY. Mothers at the Maria Cristina evacuation center in Iligan City tend to their children in cramped spaces. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

SOLIDARITY. Stronger solidarity and sustained awareness among displaced families of the need for durable solutions after the armed conflict will be key to helping them rebuild their lives. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS. A UNHCR humanitarian worker spends the afternoon at a community-based evacuation camp with babo (grandmother) HajaJijarah Manunggad, who is believed to be over 100 years old. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

DISPLACEMENT. As of December 18, 2017, an estimated 307,905 people live in displacement across Mindanao due to conflict, violence, and natural disasters. Those who are forced to flee because of the Marawi crisis account for nearly 87% (or some 266,615 people) of the total displaced population in Mindanao. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/UNHCR

 – Rappler.com 

With the fighting in Marawi over, we hope you can walk with displaced families and returnees as they begin their journey to recovery and restoration. With your help, we at UNHCR can support more displaced families in need of assistance. Share the gift of hope this season at https://donate.unhcr.ph.

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