Red Cross: Two years after Marawi siege, thousands of evacuees still homeless

MANILA, Philippines – Two years after the siege of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, thousands of evacuees still remained homeless, reported the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

ICRC's Philippine delegation head Martin Thalmann said in a statement that over 100,000 people have yet to return to their homes in the city.

"Despite the numerous aid efforts that have truly helped those in need over the two years, the people of Marawi have grown tired and frustrated. They want to stand on their own feet again and stop depending on assistance," said Thalmann. 

Marawi residents in evacuation areas or staying with relatives are still encountering problems in getting drinkable water, livelihood, and eventually permanent shelters, Thalmann added.

While he acknowledged the government's efforts to resolve complex rehabilitation issues in the city's most affected areas, Thalmann said the long delay has added to the "invisible" scars of Marawi evacuees, especially victims of violence and families of missing people.

The ICRC said around 700 people have been served by its mental health and psychosocial support program. Thalmann added these people need sustained support to fully recover from the trauma of the conflict.

ICRC said it has been working with the Philippine Red Cross to fill in the gaps in supporting affected residents after the siege. But Thalmann said, "We can only do so much. The authorities still have the primary responsibility of providing sustainable solutions to help the people of Marawi."

The Marawi siege erupted on May 23, 2017, when terrorists Maute Group occupied public facilities then clashed with government forces. 

The siege lasted 5 months until October 2017, when President Rodrigo Duterte declared the city liberated following the killing of Maute Group's leaders. (TIMELINE: The 'liberation' of Marawi)

Marawi's rehabilitation followed, but it was met with various challenges. (READ: Road to Marawi rehab: What caused months of delay?) – Rappler.com