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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Marawi evacuees’ safety, health a priority–Palace

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MALACAñANG assured the public on Saturday that it would prioritize the health and safety of evacuees displaced by the ongoing siege in Marawi City amid reports that some were already dying or getting sick as a result.

“We are doing something about it. And [our] priority and interest is the health and safety of those who evacuated,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told state radio dzRB.

Displaced residents of the besieged city of Marawi have been reported to be suffering from various illnesses, including fever and diarrhea, as they were forced to stay in evacuation centers amid the ongoing government offensive.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial earlier said that some 40 residents who were not in evacuation centers died of dehydration as a result of the ongoing conflict while 19 of them, who were previously hospitalized, died in evacuation centers, where their existing health conditions were aggravated.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund in the Philippines has begun implementing a psychosocial recovery program for thousands of children displaced by the ongoing conflict in Marawi City.

Andrew Morris, Unicef Philippines chief of field office, said the intervention aims to reach over 40,000 displaced children to help them recover from the trauma of war after more than 160,000 children were estimated to have been displaced since clashes started May 23.

“Widespread fear is apparent. The lives of many of those children are in turmoil. They ran away from their homes in Marawi. It’s important that we do everything we can to help them return to a sense of normalcy,” Morris said in a television interview.

Morris said that sanitation remains a major concern for the evacuees.

“Conditions are getting better but, as you can imagine, it’s been chaotic and not an environment you want your children to be in,” he said.

Unicef has also provided water purification equipment and items to help breastfeeding mothers to address sanitation issues, Morris said.

Meanwhile, in an effort to reach as many evacuees,  a church-based group continue to conduct relief and medical missions in war-torn Marawi City despite continuef airstrikes by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the Maute terror group in the area.

Bro. Dennis Tayo, secretary for Missions and Evangelization of the Franciscans in the Visayas and Mindanao, who is also licensed medical doctor, said that they have already served 2,078 families through relief operations and served 1,648 patients in medical missions. This also includes relief efforts done at the Al-Qayriya Madrasah Evacuation Center.

The group plans to continue their mission, unmindful of bombings in the area led by at least three government OV-10 bombers, which he said, “cause the ground to shake.”

He and his group also served not just evacuees but also locals who have decided to remain in their homes, some seven kilometers from Marawi.

“The Franciscan community is also planning to have a ‘soup kitchen’ kind of service,” Tayo said, who is coordinating with some local Muslim residents of Balo-i that hosts a number of evacuees in their homes.

Tayo is accompanied by Dr. Joel de Jesus, a Capuchin Franciscan, and Dr. Roel Cagape, a lay, a Bayaning Pilipino awardee for his service in the hinterlands of Sarangani province.

Tayo chairs the Franciscan Health Care Crossing

Borders Inc., a health care ministry comprised of volunteers from the different Franciscan Orders and congregations together with lay volunteers who live the Franciscan spirit.

They aim to provide holistic health care for the marginalized, particularly the indigenous people of the country.


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