Catholic Church gives relief to home-based Marawi refugees

Catholic Church gives relief to home-based Marawi refugees

ACN Philippines gave away 1,500 sanitary kits to refugees in Iligan City. Many evacuees long to return to their homes in Marawi City amid a siege that is 78 days and running. JOMAR LUCIANO

ILIGAN City – Upon the recommendation of the Diocese of Iligan, pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines distributed relief goods to home-based Internally Displaced People (IDP) coming from the war-torn city of Marawi.

“Even though we don’t live in evacuation centers, we can’t really say that we are better off. We don’t have any source of income. There are times when we have to stretch the contents of food packs so it would last us one week,” shared Rasmia Hadjiserab, a 63- year old Marawi City resident, who fled the city to stay with a relative in Iligan City.

In partnership with the Diocese of Iligan and the Order of Malta, ACN distributed 1,500 sanitary kits containing the exact list of items requested by the evacuees. These were given to home-based refugees temporarily residing in Tambacan, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.

Displaced business owners

According to an ACN press statement, while refugees in evacuation centers continue to receive assistance from the Church, it also extends help to home-based IDPs, who “still sorely lack basic resources for their daily needs.”

“As much as we want to start a business, we are unable to do so because we do not have enough money for capital. All our assets were left behind in Marawi City,” said Hadjiserab, who like many Maranaos were traders and entrepreneurs in Marawi who left their businesses thinking the conflict would last only three days.

Not wanting to abuse the hospitality of their relatives in Iligan, Maranaos like Hadjiserab have no choice but to patiently line-up for hours and wait for emergency relief goods.

“We were not able to bring anything with us when we fled — no clothes, no slippers, no extra set of clothes,” she said.

The Diocese of Iligan has also started to request for other needs aside from food and drinks. Upon consultation with the IDPs, the diocese is now calling for donations of soap, sanitary napkins, malong, and other personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, lotions, and insect repellants.

Longing for home

Aside from sanitary kits, there were also a number of requests for electric fans and decent cribs for mothers with infants. Many of the mothers created make-shift cribs out of salvaged springs and malong.

While very appreciative of the food items that they have received from government and other charity organizations, many of the refugees voiced frustration that they are unable to return to their communities in Marawi City.

“We hope we still have houses and farmlands to come home to,” added Magondacan. Although only three villages are controlled by the Maute terrorist group that occupied Marawi, residents are still prohibited from returning to their communities.

ACN Philippines received Php 1.5 million pesos from its community of Christian donors worldwide. It is set to donate a larger amount for rehabilitation of destroyed communities once the conflict in Marawi ends. ACN Philippines/CBCPNews