No humanitarian crisis in Marawi? OCD draws flak

Aug. 25, 2017

Jerome Succor Aba, spokesperson of S​uara Bangsamoro, during the two-day peace forum sponsored by National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) at Hotel Conchita in Cagayan de Oro City on June 28, 2017. (Photo by Bags Castillo/Kilab Multimedia)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The existence of a humanitarian crisis in Marawi is real and can be gleaned from the situation of the thousands of residents who were forced to abandon their abodes and are now temporarily settling in various evacuation centers in the area.

This was the point raised by Jerome Succor Aba, chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro and co-chairperson of the Sandugo Movement for Self Determination and Liberation in response to the claim of an executive from the Office of Civil Defense denying the reality of humanitarian crisis in the area.

On Friday, OCD Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima said there is no humanitarian crisis in Marawi.

“We do not think it’s a humanitarian crisis because we’re addressing the situation that’s happening. We know what’s happening on the ground and we’re addressing all the needs of our IDPs, whether they be in our evacuation centers or home-based,” Purisima pointed out.
He added that the government answers to the needs of the affected people of Marawi, the reason why there is no humanitarian crisis happening.

Purisima also took note of the post-conflict needs assessment which has already started by the Task Force Bangon Marawi which is part of the comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery program for the people in the area.

But Aba said responding to the needs of the evacuees should not be the sole basis to deny the existence of a humanitarian crisis.

“Signs of a humanitarian crisis are present, especially in evacuation centers. As the ground and air assaults continue, the sufferings of the evacuees are prolonged,” he said.

Aba also cited the cases of hunger, the diminishing hopes of the evacuees to return to their communities and the pains of losing their livelihood and properties due to war as the basis of the presence of a humanitarian crisis.

Cases of trauma and mental illnesses due to uncertainties and miserable conditions inside the evacuation centers are factors that attribute to the reality of the humanitarian crisis, he added.

“The inadequate response of the government to the daily needs of the evacuees is also a basis that humanitarian crisis is real,” Aba said.

Cases of human rights violations due to the implementation of martial law and other forms of repressions are also the basis of the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Marawi, he added.

Such cases were also confirmed by the second National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission conducted by various groups led by Kalinaw Mindanaw in July of this year.

“The NIHM 2 continued documentation of the cases of human rights violations. Encouraged by the show of support from several groups, victims have started to surface and narrate what had previously been kept for fear of military retaliation,” the report said.

NIHM 2 also recorded alleged various military repressions encountered by the evacuees.

“Just before President Duterte’s Second SONA (State of the Nation Address) and the widely-circulated march of evacuees to “reclaim” Marawi City, evacuees were informed that IDs (identification cards) were not enough to allow them mobility. They were required to bring cedulas with them. This requirement was difficult for them to meet due to the limited supply of cedula, the additional burden of paying to acquire one and the rigorous process of background checking by their host local government units,” the NIHM 2 report said.

Representatives of Marawi evacuees, accompanied by their leaders under the group Tindeg Ranao have joined this year’s Labayan of National Minorities.

“Maranao evacuees and survivors of the Marawi Crisis will bring into the national capital their stories of displacement and the intensifying violations of their rights under Martial law in Mindanao,” a statement from the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Northern Mindanao said. (

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