On 23 October, the Government of the Philippines announced the end of combat operations in Marawi City against local non-state armed groups that had occupied the city since conflict erupted five months earlier. While martial law remains in place across Mindanao at least until the end of 2017, local authorities, under the national government’s Task Force Bangon Marawi, have focused their attention on the organized return of the displaced population to their places of origin.
As of 8 November, about 353,000 displaced people remain on the Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DAFAC) registry of the Department of Socials Welfare and Development. There are 68 government-run evacuation centres hosting about 20,600 people who need continued humanitarian assistance, along with others residing with host communities who are yet to return. The Government has conducted post-conflict needs assessments of approximately half of Marawi City’s barangays, and military operations continue to clear areas of explosive remnants of war and maintain security. About 53,000 people displaced from 24 barangays most affected by the conflict will not be able to return soon as their homes have been completely destroyed.
The Government has started the phased return Marawi City residents whose homes had minimum to medium damage. About 42,000 people returned in the first phase, joining some 45,000 people who had already voluntarily returned. Security risks and restoration of basic services remain a challenge that may delay the return of more than half of the city’s estimated 200,000 before the end of the year.
Local authorities note many people who have been allowed to return to Marawi City have gone back to evacuation centres and host communities due to delays in the restoration of utilities, services, schools and livelihood opportunities. Local markets are slowly resuming, but food security and access to potable water and sanitation are immediate gaps. A recent assessment by the food security and agriculture cluster shows only 12 per cent of Lanao del Sur residents are food secure, and that food security is among the top three needs the displaced people expect to face upon their return home.
Protection concerns remain for those living with host families and those in formal and community-based evacuation centres. These include the lack of identification documents and land titles, gender-based violence, exploitation and abuse, and unequal access to humanitarian assistance, services and information. Other challenges that need to be addressed in the return process include peace building, reconciliation and countering extremism.
The Mindanao Humanitarian Team drafted a sector implementation plan at the end of September, which identified current key needs, response activities and gaps by sector and has guided international support to the Government-led humanitarian response from October. Additional sectoral assessments have been conducted, including on food security, child protection and return intentions, which point to the need to continue targeted humanitarian assistance for the first half of 2018. This update of the response and resources overview highlights the continuing and emerging humanitarian needs as well as the resource requirements to meet those needs.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.