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POOR CONDITIONS IN SHELTERS

Bring us home, Marawi moms ask gov’t task force

/ 05:20 AM April 17, 2018

STARTING ANEW Residents of Marawi City are longing to return to their villages, destroyed by the five-month fighting between government troops and the Maute terror group, so they can restart their lives. RICHEL V. UMEL

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — A group of Maranao mothers has again called on the government to allow displaced Marawi City residents to return home, saying they have suffered enough humiliation.

United Mothers of Marawi Inc. (Ummi), in a statement, said it had nearly been a year since they and their families left their homes after terror groups loyal to the Islamic State laid siege to the Lanao del Sur provincial capital but the government had yet to give them access to their former villages even after the war had ended in October last year.

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Worst, they said, that they were being asked to leave shelters, apparently referring to the demand of Iligan City officials for the government to empty evacuation centers in that city in time for the school opening.

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“We are the mothers of displaced people who are still languishing in pitiable shelters. Many of us are begging for places to stay. Many of us have been driven out from shelters without dignity,” Ummi said.

The group also lamented that residents were made “to suffer for a crime that is not of our making … forced to pay for the inefficiency of those who are charged with the welfare of the people and the security of the land.”

Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, chair of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, recently said the government could not yet allow residents of 24 villages, considered the “main affected area” of the siege, to return because it was still dangerous.

Del Rosario cited the presence of unexploded ordnances and bombs that soldiers were retrieving daily.

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He said what the government did was to allow residents to visit under the activity called “Kambisita” so they could see for themselves the extent of devastation in the villages where the fighting and airstrikes were concentrated.

He said even the groundbreaking for the rehabilitation of the city hinged on the recovery of these unexploded ordnances and explosives.

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Sen. JV Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on housing, urban planning and resettlement, said it would be better if the government would just allow displaced Marawi residents to rebuild their homes to avoid prolonging their suffering. —Jigger Jerusalem

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TAGS: Maraw siege, Marawi refugees, UMMI, United Mothers of Marawi Inc.
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