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Bishop urges empathy, action for Marawi evacuees

Bishop urges empathy, action for Marawi evacuees
A plume of smoke rises over Marawi City following airstrikes by Philippine Air Force. CBCPNews

MANILA— There is a need to thoroughly assess and understand the conditions of women displaced by the ongoing conflict that has besieged Marawi City for almost two months now, a Catholic prelate said.

Bishop Edwin dela Peña of Marawi prelature said that as fighting continues, the situation of the thousands of evacuees was getting worse.

A group of women earlier said they are heading back to the battle-scarred city on July 24, coinciding with President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“It’s a symbolic action of their deep-seated anger and frustration of their ‘bakwit’ status for 60 days and have to endure life in the evacuation centers with nothing much to do,” dela Peña said.

“We just have to trust in the women’s unique contribution to ending the war. This might be it,” he said.

Nearly half a million people have fled the city and outlying towns since fighting between security forces and the Maute terrorists erupted on May 23.

The ongoing clashes also forced thousands of families to stay in cramped and unsanitary makeshift evacuation camps.

The Health department said at least 34 evacuees have already died from dehydration, pneumonia and other illnesses.

The bishop said the “Occupy Marawi” on Monday aims to dramatize the Marawi women’s plight due to the protracted war.

“For some of them, to have a glimpse of their city is already enough even if they have to go back again as evacuees,” dela Peña said. CBCPNews