Psychosocial sessions for children in evacuation centers are conducted by Save the Children and with partners in established child-friendly spaces in Lanao del Sur as part of the humanitarian mission for child rights protection.
These were done in Lumbayanague, Saguiaran; Bubong, Saguiaran; Radapan Poblacion, Bubu, Piagapo; Ragayan, Marantao; and in Tacub Pendolonan, Marantao of Lanao del Sur .
The sessions gathered an average of 50 children participants per area.
This is a humanitarian initiatives to ensure that children have the opportunity to narrate their experiences for emotional and psychological relief; are not discriminated in protection services; and, the intended social measures from clusters are delivered for their welfare.
In those sessions, they were encouraged to play, share their stories, and learn informally.
Maradeca Inc. is a partner of Save the Children and had served as community facilitators and organizers.
To reckon, the Marawi siege in March 2017 displaced 83,525 families or 385,117 persons from 96 barangays, 20 towns in Lanao Sur, and two municipalities in Lanao del Norte.
They were widely dispersed in 80 evacuation centers, in different regions of the country, but mostly in the residences of their relatives within Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and in Region X..
The subsequent lockdown following martial law declaration and the siege’s impact to provincial economy uncontrollably increased the figures of evacuees.
Social workers earlier reported that of these displaced communities, 50% or more are children and teens; many of whom lost their opportunity for formal education.
Their teachers are also displaced– a number unfortunately suffered traumatic experiences during the siege and are creatively healing on their own.
Save the Children noted that even the established temporary learning spaces for children are overcrowded and not conducive for alternative education, but they settled in compromise for what was available at the moment.
Children were those most vulnerable for hunger and illnesses in congested evacuation centers because most parents lost their economic base and had became reliant on available humanitarian aid, specially in the first six months of displacement.
Concerns of the health cluster weigh on children affected by upper respiratory tract infection, skin diseases, acute respiratory infection, acute watery diarrhea, and cases of cholera.
A year after the siege, 6,469 families have already returned to nine barangays in Marawi but the residents of 24 most affected barangays are yet struggling for their return.
Continued monitoring and supports for children protection are eyed to be sustained by humanitarian groups.