Military opens alternative route for delivery of relief to refugees
DAVAO CITY—Thousands of displaced residents of Marawi City received more relief after the military opened an alternate route to Ditsaan-Ramain and other towns in southern Lanao del Sur province on Wednesday.
The military opened the route, which bypasses the battle zone in Marawi, after a security plan had been put in place, said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).
The fighting in Marawi has entered its 10th week, still without a military deadline for clearing the city of Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists who seized it on May 23 to establish an enclave for the Middle East-based jihadist group in Southeast Asia.
Western governments have warned their citizens against traveling to Mindanao, citing the rising threats of terror attacks and kidnappings by the terrorists.
Fresh alerts from Britain, Canada and Australia were released this week after President Duterte extended military rule across Mindanao until the end of the year to combat the terrorists.
The Canadian advisory on Monday warned against visiting any part of Mindanao except for Davao, the biggest city on the island and the hometown of Mr. Duterte.
More than 13,000 displaced residents of Marawi got more food and other goods with the opening of the alternative route, which Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson for the Lanao del Sur crisis management committee, said was the result of cooperation between civilian and military authorities.
Until the route was opened, only limited relief supplies could be delivered to the 11 towns in the south because
the bridge in Poona Bayabao town could be used only by light
After Wednesday’s delivery, Adiong said more assistance was expected for residents of other towns like Bubong and Masiu.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, Wesmincom spokesperson, said Ditsaan-Ramain was “the nearest municipality from Marawi, [but it] became the farthest” after the route to the town was cut by fighting between government forces and IS-inspired terrorists.
But the opening of the alternate route after security concerns had been dealt with made possible the transportation of more relief to thousands of residents in the southern towns, she said.
Petinglay said each family got half a sack of rice, groceries and other goods.
Among those who provided the assistance was the United Nation’s World Food Program, she said.
Mustapha Salic, Ditsaan-Ramain municipal planning and development coordinator, said the relief also included kitchen utensils and hygiene kits. —WITH A REPORT FROM AFP
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