Maradeca Inc. joined with the rest of the civil society on May 23, 2019 to commemorate the Marawi siege which displaced 115,880 families and which resulted to the formation of then 89 evacuation centers within 378 barangays in eight regions of the country.
Heaving inspiration from the perspective of transitional justice, the commemoration was highlighted with visitation of the unnamed 282 dead, most of whom were unidentified civilians who were buried in Maqbara public cemetery; expressing of sentiments and testimonies of internally displaced communities at Ground Zero; and, undergoing IDP reflective session at the IPDM conference hall of MSU-main campus to visualize what is collectively hoped to attain in the next ten years for Marawi.
While transitional shelters are continually constructed for IDPs in some parts of Marawi, there are still so much to do for remaining 66,000 displaced people–mostly staying with host families in varied towns of Lanao del Sur, while another estimated 900 families (or 4,500 people) are still sheltered in four evacuation centers and camp sites.
In retrospect, the siege impacted widely in 22 towns of Lanao and its neighboring areas while a number of civilians were caught in the crossfires and others were unfortunately held as hostages by armed elements. Violence met confusions and in those days, the center of the city crumbled in hostility and conflagration.
Humanitarian institutions came in an influx to deliver emergency response and all necessary supports. Maradeca Inc., a non-government within the conflict-affected zone, worked along and with them.
However, with little changes introduced to disrupted families’ lives, Maradeca Inc. maintain its humanitarian direction: continue reducing IDPs vulnerability.
In collaborative humanitarian action since the siege, Maradeca Inc. braved in profiling internally displaced communities and their needs; distributed emergency relief and economic assistance; did iftar in evacuation camps during Ramadhan; conducted psychosocial supports and healthcare for women and children; assisted in capacitating evacuees in camp management and wastes control; mediated dialogues to strengthen IDPs coordination with local government units; provided privacy partitions to humanize evacuation centers; and most importantly, assisted families in diaspora to construct their transitional shelters in their chosen communities.
Together with partners, Maradeca assisted the construction of 333 transitional shelters with creative indigenous innovations by IDPs themselves in their chosen communities where they felt safe with their neighbors and where they can integrate themselves with other villagers in liberty. Thanks to Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and others who made the transitional shelters possible. It helped decongest evacuation areas in cost-efficient way and assisted families to commence early recovery although they are now far situated from their original abodes. The shelters may not be the replica of their original homes but it still offer temporal relief and peace of mind.
Two years have passed since the the siege, actual reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi is yet to commence. In this phase, new challenges need to be transparently dealt on conflicting land ownership claims and on property management. The dialogues initiated by Task Force Bangon Marawi created consultative space but Maranaos are still pressing for their immediate return to their original residences and demand genuine participation in the rehabilitation and reconstruction. Lately, IDPs have already posted “no demolition without consent” on their bullets-tattered homes to protect and assert property rights. They also wanted for either repair or reconstruction of their mosques and madrasahs — the temple of their cultural and spiritual well-beings.
Other serious considerations are poor delivery of social services and programs and the implications of unclear policies in localizing the priorities of reconstruction.
The current situation truly demands an interdisciplinary humanitarian intervention to reconstruct the city, heal the invisible wounds and trauma in dialogical process, and rebuild the 24 barangays in Marawi to restore hope for the peoples of the lake.
How the reconstruction phase will unravel to change and transform a tragic history is yet to patiently see.