Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 10 | November 2017
• The Government declares an end to the conflict in Marawi as humanitarian needs continue and planning for return begins.
• ASEAN humanitarian partners and government agencies convene for a workshop to develop a regional contingency plan for a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Manila.
• The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, together with partners supported an ASEAN symposium on humanitarian response.
End of conflict declared in Marawi as humanitarian needs continue
On 23 October, 154 days after the conflict began in Marawi City, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued a press statement announcing the end of combat operations. This came one week after confirming the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf Group leader who led the armed revolt that instigated the conflict, and Omar Maute, one of the leaders of the local non-state armed group that has been a main party to the conflict.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) officially reports a total displacement of 353,921 people as of 22 October, with an additional 3,648 people being validated. With reports of some displaced people excluded from DSWD’s Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DAFAC) registry, Task Force Bangon Marawi has requested local authorities to revalidate the DAFAC registrations and submit revised lists to DSWD.
Some people have started to return to areas of Marawi City unaffected by the conflict. The first area to be cleared comprised ten barangays near Sagonsongan, the proposed transition site, where most residents did not evacuate. The second included ten barangays on the western side of the Mindanao State University campus. The most recent area to be opened comprises nine barangays in the area of the provincial capitol northeast toward the Agus River. The city government will review the return process and make improvements for successive clusters of barangays to be cleared for returns The Government says it will provide a one-month’s supply of food and non-food items to those who return. The Marawi City government is leading the return process, including preparing for psychosocial support services to returnees.
Humanitarian and transitional needs continue
Government, NGO and international responders have re-assessed the priority humanitarian and transitional needs of those still displaced. The Mindanao Humanitarian Team developed a sector implementation plan that identifies needs, recommended responses and gaps for October through December. (The term “sector” is being used to distinguish the activities from the government-led clusters, which were formally deactivated on 12 August.) The plan was presented to the task force and DSWD leadership on 7 October.
The sectors will strengthen coordination with responding government agencies and look to access additional funding that will enable humanitarian assistance to continue beyond December 2017.
So far, transportation resources and logistics facilities have been inadequate to meet the humanitarian needs of those displaced. Concerns have also been raised by local authorities regading the release of national funding, which is delaying the immediate procurement and smooth distribution of relief goods needed for the response.
While the needs of those staying in evacuation centres still require attention, people living with host families and in remote areas also need to be prioritized for assistance. More focused support is also required for children with special needs, orphans, at-risk children, out-of-school youth and child-headed families.
Access to health services
The health sector notes 40 per cent of evacuation centres do not have regular access to essential health services. There is no mobile outreach, either, for many municipalities hosting people displaced by the conflict. Sector partners are providing reproductive health services, peer counselling on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and mental health and psychosocial support services in schools, evacuation centres, and host communities.
A limited number of available trained health workers is affecting the coverage of emergency nutrition services and information for severe acute malnutrition cases. The targeted supplementary food programme is only reaching a limited number of moderately malnourished children. Monitoring and surveillance for severe acute malnutrition in remote host communities, supplemental feeding and targeted cash transfers will be needed for the next 6 to 12 months.
Continuing food and agriculture support
Food security and agriculture sector partners are conducting an emergency food security assessment that will provide a clearer indication of the immediate needs in the affected areas. The sector will assist 7,800 affected families (39,000 people) with food items and proposes to assist 60,000 students with emergency school feedings.
Ensuring water is safe in displaced communities
While gaps remain in replenishing water treatment chemicals, repairing existing water sources, and monitoring water quality in host family households, technical assessments for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are being conducted in various municipalities. Government agencies and sector partners are also desludging septic tanks and constructing temporary septic treatment sites and latrines. More work is needed on training local government staff and volunteers, mobilizing community clean-up campaigns, and supporting local governments on solid waste management.
Support for teachers and learners About 400 teachers and 12,000 learners continue to receive psychosocial support services. Most host schools have received school, teacher and learner kits from the Department of Education and sector partners, while over 30 schools have received 60 temporary learning spaces. A significant number of learners, however, are still not in school. Learning spaces are still needed in other host schools, but partners are unable to address the shortages.
Continued advocacy for the protection of the displaced Protection matters remain a priority. People without civil documents are being issued PhilHealth identification cards. Partners are also providing mine-risk education and are working with national telecommunications providers to broadcast mine risk information in affected areas. Assistance is being given, as well, to survivors of gender-based violence, including community-based patrolling, monitoring and referrals in several communities.
Child protection and gender-based violence An inter-agency coalition of government agencies, UN agencies, international and national NGOs, which comprise a joint regional working group on child protection and gender-based violence, completed a child protection rapid assessment in Region X and ARMM to understand the protection needs of children, youth and their families affected by the Marawi displacement, which will inform the response priorities of future programming.
The initial results were presented by Plan International on 20 October. While the data are currently undergoing various validation processes, the preliminary findings indicate much work is needed. Nearly 80 per cent of the communities surveyed reported, for example, changes in the behaviour of children displaced by the conflict, who more often than not demonstrated negative coping mechanisms. Girls and young women are especially affected, with about a quarter to a third of the communities surveyed reporting incidents of sexual violence, early marriage and negative consequences for survivors of abuse who become known. Poverty was identified as a leading driver in the exploitation of displaced children in these communities, who are increasingly being recruited by armed groups or trafficked to other areas to beg or be street vendors.
The coalition recommends an integrated approach to providing protection, education and economic recovery programming, with targeted support for girls and young women. It also recognizes that, due to cultural sensitivities, there may be under-reporting of sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, and encourages innovative ways be identified to enable people to safely report these types of incidents.
Government begins preparing for recovery and rehabilitation
Task Force Bangon Marawi, meanwhile, has begun a damage and loss assessment in Marawi City. Five teams of various national and local government agencies were deployed to 24 of the city’s 96 barangays declared cleared by the military. The Government hopes to have its report on these barangays by the beginning of November, while assessments of other barangays will commence as the military completes its clearing operations in those areas.
The damage and loss assessments, along with the human response needs analysis conducted in August, contribute to the Government’s post-conflict needs assessment.
The task force has also received a joint recovery, rehabilitation and peacebuilding plan for Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, which will serve as the Government’s master plan.
The plan includes components on reconstruction, housing, health, education, social welfare, economic recovery, and peace and order. As support to the Task Force Bangon Marawi, UNDP is also working with the provincial and local governments in preparing an integrated recovery plan that includes business and livelihood activities and increasing access to financial resources for those affected by the conflict. Trainings on negotiation and mediation, and conflict analysis have also been provided to members of the academe and civil society organizations.
As Government, local NGOs and international partners continue to address the humanitarian needs of those displaced while directing more attention to their safe, voluntary return and transition to recovery, more information is needed on housing, land and property matters for returnees, as well as information on those who have already returned to ensure their basic needs continue to be met. Most humanitarian responders are currently only resourced to support the humanitarian response until December 2017, though it will be a long road ahead and many people continuing to require assistance to meet their immediate needs while they rebuild their lives.