The ﬁghting between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, has continued for more than two months. Recent drone footage has shown the extent of damage to many houses in Marawi City. A number of human remains in skeletal state have been recovered by the authorities, but it is feared that more have yet to be retrieved. An estimated 300,000 people have been displaced by the ﬁghting, according to the regional authorities. Other municipalities that had been relying on Marawi for trading are also feeling the conﬂict’s effects. More than 77,000 people who ﬂed to municipalities in the east of Lake Lanao—from Masiu up to Bubong—are in a very dire situation. Access and security issues that started after the ﬁghting broke out have hampered the timely and regular delivery of food and medical supplies. Health facilities in the east of the lake are overwhelmed with the inﬂux of patients, and are under-supported with human and medical resources. The only functioning hospital in this side, located in Tamparan, has received 1,200 cases of displaced people with diarrhea since the start of the crisis. Displaced people nearer to Iligan (Saguiaran, Balo-i) and those in the west of Lake Lanao (Piagapo, Marantao, Balindong, etc.) also have needs, but are receiving more support than those in the east of Lake Lanao. Markets are also operational in these areas unlike in the east.
Humanitarian needs and issues of concerns
On management of dead bodies and missing people:
More cadavers will likely be discovered once the conﬂict zones become accessible. Tracing and burial efforts will become more challenging for authorities, who are the ones in charge of properly managing dead bodies. All human remains must be treated with respect and dignity at all times. All measures should be taken to ensure that the dead are identiﬁed and returned to their families. Families who have missing relatives have the right to know the fate of their loved ones, and to be reunited with them. They must be properly supported in tracing their relatives. Parties to the conﬂict have an obligation to provide information on the whereabouts of civilians under their authority and assist efforts to bring families back together.
On displaced families:
Those who had been displaced for two months now are getting exhausted, especially with no end in sight to the ﬁghting. In evacuation centers, thousands of families continue to struggle with poor living conditions and minimal access to basic services. They do not know how to support themselves in the future. Home-based evacuees have started to go to evacuation centers to receive more support. Many host families have already used up their resources, and they are now also in need of help. Some displaced families in municipalities along the east side of Lake Lanao feel a sense of “neglect and lack of support” due to the little amount of help coming their way. It’s crucial that humanitarian aid for people in this area must be unhampered.
ICRC actions to date
Distributed food to around 20,000 displaced people (4,062 families) in Saguiaran, Piagapo, Balindong and Marawi Distributed essential household items to around 48,000 displaced people (9,731 families) in Saguiaran, Piagapo, Marawi, Tamparan, Balindong, Ditsaan-Ramain, Bubong and Buadiposo-Buntong Documents and monitors reports of alleged IHL violations; and intervenes, whenever possible with the concerned parties to address the issues Provided ﬁnancial support for the medical treatment of wounded civilians Coordinates closely with the authorities in ensuring the proper management of dead persons
Works together with the PRC in the following activities
Continuously providing medical supplies to health facilities assisting wounded or sick displaced people, especially in the less-accessible municipalities in the east of Lake Lanao
Continuous supply of drinking water to displaced people through water bladders installed in two evacuation centers in Saguiaran, and in Bito Buadi Itowa and the provincial capitol in Marawi Improved the drainage near Saguiaran gymnasium Built two toilets and two kitchen kiosks in Buadi Bito Itowa
The ICRC’s operations in the coming days will focus on municipalities east of Lake Lanao. The independent and neutral identity of the ICRC, and contacts with all relevant parties involved, gives the ICRC the unique ability to access and operate in challenging areas.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization that protects and assists victims of armed conﬂict. It has an international mandate to promote knowledge of and respect for IHL.