UNICEF Philippines Humanitarian Situation Update – 23 August 2017
On 23 May 2017, the Government of the Philippines launched a military and law enforcement operation in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur province. As of 20 August, 359,680 individuals have been internally displaced. Children and adolescents up to 19 years old make up 57% of those displaced; of these, 19% are adolescents. Mass evacuations took place as local residents sought refuge in safer areas in Marawi City and in the adjacent provinces of Lanao del Sur (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao/ARMM) and Lanao del Norte.
UNICEF is responding and has received contributions both through the Central Emergency Response Fund and from the Government of Japan. This has secured UNICEF’s initial commitment to provide essential support for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Education, Health, Nutrition and Child Protection emergency programmes.
There are no indications that the conflict in Marawi City will end soon. Many host communities (housing approximately 90% of the displaced population) are still inaccessible to humanitarian organizations due to ongoing fighting and general insecurity. Little is known about the needs in these communities**. Additional needs will be identified as host communities become accessible. Further, any return of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to their original homes will require support. UNICEF will have a role in recovery and rehabilitation efforts to ensure that children and their families are best accommodated and that their essential needs are met.
As the current situation becomes protracted, there are concerns that children will become even more vulnerable because of dwindling family resources and prolonged exposure to violence. Children—especially adolescents—who suffer from profound stress may become more susceptible to recruitment and radicalization by non-state armed groups.
To date, UNICEF through partners has provided 11,990 individuals, including children, with improved access to clean water; screened 4,821 children for malnutrition; and provided safe spaces for play and psychosocial support to 8,400 children.
Situation overview and humanitarian needs
Military combat operations continue in Marawi City, with humanitarian actors still having very little direct access to the majority of the IDPs accommodated in host communities. Aid delivery continues to be concentrated in accessible areas. Restricted movement of IDPs without valid identification has forced affected people to stay where they are, limiting their options to access assistance and services.
A strategy outlining the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) priorities for the humanitarian response has been drafted. The strategy adopts a two-phase approach that looks into the unmet humanitarian needs and early recovery. Needs have been reported across all humanitarian sectors, but poor sanitation and hygiene remain a key concern in congested evacuation centres and in host communities where sanitation practices were already poor prior to the emergency. Continued reports of diarrhoea highlight the need for extra vigilance and to scale up the sanitation response and providing access to clean water.
As fighting continues and host communities struggle to share existing resources, the nutrition situation of young children in the poorest families is affected by the loss of household income and restricted access to livestock and markets. Screening, nutrition surveillance and referral of malnutrition cases, as well as counselling for mothers with young children, are immediate priorities.
The conflict has caused an unprecedented disruption to education for children from Marawi City and surrounding municipalities. Fourteen schools in Marawi City have been severely damaged1 , directly affecting 8,548 students. Classes in 153 public and private schools in Marawi City and in 3 surrounding municipalities were initially suspended, affecting some 86,000 school children. Although a government-led ‘Back to School’ campaign has been initiated, tracking public and private school learners from Marawi remains a challenge. This is crucial in determining the number of temporary learning spaces (TLS) needed to ensure that all children will be accommodated. To date, some 27,673 Marawi City learners have been transferred to or temporarily enrolled in schools, with intensive efforts to track the remaining children and ensure that they enrol in schools in their temporary displacement locations.2 While the majority of Marawi City teachers have been tracked and deployed to augment host schools and to staff classes in TLSs, there are still not enough teachers to support the overcrowded classrooms or TLSs.
Armed conflict and displacement have a negative psychosocial impact on children. This requires a continuation and further scale-up of psychosocial recovery actions to mitigate longer-term impacts. There have been unconfirmed reports of the recruitment and use of children in armed services. Protection risks to children from ongoing armed clashes in civilian residential areas in Marawi City and surrounding areas are a serious concern.