Conflict in Marawi leaves thousands displaced
“Our lives as evacuees is tough. What really hurts me the most is seeing my children and wife suffer from sickness, sleepless nights, and a lack of food. I pray and hope that we can go back home and start anew,” said 40-year old, Tingki Dalidig, a farmer from Barangay (village) Malimono, Marawi City.
On the evening on 23 May 2017, violence erupted in Marawi City when ISIL fighters clashed with government forces. Martial law was declared across the island of Mindanao, and since then more than 78,000 families have fled to safety in neighbouring provinces.
Tingki’s family was one of those who left, and more than five months later they cannot return home due to wide-spread damage to homes, schools and infrastructure. For displaced families, temporary accommodation remains their only option.
Fleeing to safety
“I remembered that horrible day when we were forced to evacuate our homes by the military due to the intensifying conflict and loud sounds of bombs and gun fires,” Tingki said.
“We brought nothing and we just walked in the rain for six hours. Instead of passing through the highway, we decided to take an alternative route through the forest to ensure our safety. When we safely reached the Municipality of Pantar, Lanao del Norte, we were lucky to be able to hop into a privately-owned truck bound for Iligan City,” Tingki said.
His family found safety at an evacuation centre, where they have remained. Although the violence has ended, families are scared to return home, and many don’t have homes to return to.
More than five months since the conflict began, Tingki and his family continue to live in the evacuation center. Before they started receiving assistance, they were worried they would run out of food. So they decided to eat only once or a maximum of twice a day, so that the food they had would last longer.
“I am fortunate that my family was included in the Philippine Government’s Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DAFAC), so we can get relief assistance from both the government and private organizations,” Tingki said.
World Food Programme, in partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform in Lanao del Sur, responded immediately to the crisis by providing rice through general food distribution, targeting the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries in Marawi, of which Tingki’s family is a recipient. His family received an allocation of 50kg of rice for a month.
“The rice we received from WFP is truly a big help to my family. Because of this, we no longer have to worry about what to eat,” Tingki said.
“Out of the 245 families situated in this evacuation center, only 100 families were issued the DAFAC, including Tingki’s family,” said Saida Sarip, a community volunteer assisting the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Toril Madrasah Building. Many more require help before it’s safe for them to return home.
Life after the conflict
For displaced families such as Tingki’s, livelihoods are a priority as their displacement continues. “We cannot just sit here and wait for relief assistance to come, which is also not enough to address the other needs of our family, such as the education of our children,” Tingki further said.
Prior to the conflict, Tingki managed one hectare of land where he planted rice, corn and vegetables. He has lost about 3 metric tons as a result of the conflict, with an estimated value of PhP45,000 (USD $878). He hopes to be back this November for the planting season (October/November is planting season), but will need financial assistance to start planting again.
WFP is seeking support to organize short-term livelihood activities to help returnee families rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Since the violence erupted, WFP has provided emergency food assistance to more than 90,000 people and school meals to 60,000 students to help them to stay in school.
WFP’s work in Marawi is made possible due to support from the Japanese and Australian Governments and the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, who have provided logistical support.
Find out more about WFP’s work in the Philippines.