U.S. adds $4.5 million aid for Marawi war evacuees
MANILA, Philippines – The United States government is donating $4.5 million (P234 million) more to relief and recovery efforts for thousands of people who remain displaced from Marawi two years since the grisly battle between government forces and the Maute terrorist group that has left the city’s central district in ruins.
In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said the fresh funds will provide some 2,600 people with emergency shelters, adding to the 33,000 who have already received similar assistance. It will also go to projects like water and sanitation services, safe spaces for women and children, and support to Philippine government efforts to improve economic and social conditions for people displaced by the conflict.
To date, the U.S. government has pledged a total of $63.6 million (P3.4 billion) to Marawi recovery efforts through its aid arm, the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
“The US government remains committed to supporting the Philippine government in helping restore normalcy in the lives of the Filipinos affected by the Marawi conflict,” said US Ambassador Sung Kim, adding that the new tranche of assistance reflects the “strong bond” between the two countries.
Some 50,000 residents of Marawi are still unable to return to their homes in the city’s “most affected area,” where the military said they are still scouring the ground for unexploded bombs from the 5-month siege that ended in October 2017.
Complications in parceling out contracts to reconstruct portions of the city have delayed government targets for rebuilding Marawi and prevented many residents from returning.
The battle killed over 1,100 people, more than 900 of them members of the pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Maute group, according to the Armed Forces.
Some 350,000 people were displaced at the height of the conflict, many of whom were forced to live in tents where poor living conditions took a toll on their physical and mental health.
The US Embassy said their recovery efforts will help the 50,000 internally displaced persons and 9,000 others in Maguindanao.
Aside from humanitarian aid, the US also provided technical and surveillance assistance to Philippine troops during the battle. Earlier this week, it pledged more assistance in curbing terrorism and violent extremism in the Philippines. – Rappler.com