Marawi Update: The last of the evacuation centers

Families affected by the Marawi conflict have now been moved to transitory shelters, which are stronger and more comfortable compared to the tents that they used to occupy for more than 2 years. However, they are still displaced and the need for durable solutions remains.

No one lives in Sarimanok Tent City anymore. At its height, it had more than 200 families living in tents made of plastic, wood, and strengthening material. Some families resided here since they lost everything during the conflict in Marawi two years ago. They often had difficulty accessing basic services and were at risk to the elements.

The government and its partners began moving the internally displaced last 05 December 2019. By 25 January 2020, the last 64 families were moved to Rorogagus Transitory Site. The 200 families are now in four different transitory sites across the city. It was the last of evacuation centers that served to shelter the internally displaced.

Children playing in their makeshift shelter in Sarimanok Tent City ©UNHCR/A. Ongcal

One of the internally displaced women living in Sarimanok during a core-relief distribution back in 2018. ©UNHCR/M. San Diego

A safer roof over their head

Transitory shelters offer more protection from elements and provide a more dignified way of life. The displaced families are ensured better living conditions because of stronger, safer, and more comfortable shelters. But the journey to rebuild a better life continues.

“The shelters are transitory, and it is not a durable solution for them. It is known to the internally displaced persons that they are only able to occupy the shelter for a five-year period,” said UNHCR Field Associate, Jalanie Pangalian.

Those who live in transitory shelters are now faced with new challenges. Livelihood opportunities can be more difficult to come by due to the distance from the city center. There is also a scarcity of food as there are limited agencies that deliver food assistance.

“The feeling of being displaced is there and they still want to return to their places of origin in the most affected areas in Marawi City,” said UNHCR Field Associate Jalanie Pangalian.

The work continues

It has been more than two years since the Marawi conflict. Thanks to the kindness of individual donors and our partners on the ground, much has been done to help the families who have been forcibly displaced. However, more than 100,000 individuals still live in displacement and are in need of protection and support. With your help, we will continue to address the most pressing needs facing them today: livelihood opportunities, access to learning for the children, health-related interventions, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and other quick impact projects that will allow them to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.

Marawi at a glance

In the past two years, through the support of donors like you, UNHCR’s intervention came in the form of life-saving assistance, activities aimed at protecting the well-being and safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable, and projects that facilitate safety and dignity for the forcibly displaced.

SL - 2017 distribution of beddings

In July 2017, just two months after the conflict erupted, UNHCR Philippines distributed core relief items to several evacuation centers around Marawi city, including the ones in Buru-un and Saguiaran.

Extra photo- special needs

UNHCR also assisted the most vulnerable people with special needs. UNHCR provided wheelchairs, beddings, and specialized equipment for the elderly, the disabled, and children with the impaired ability to walk. To this day, our monitoring activities strive to identify those with special needs and provide the necessary aid.

SR - Philhealth issuance 2017

In October 2017, UNHCR facilitated the distribution of Philhealth identification cards for the internally displaced. We also arranged for an SMS broadcast system for emergencies, in partnership with SMART Communications. These initiatives lessened their protection risks like freedom of movement, as well as facilitated their access to social services.

2018 Tarpaulin 1

A year after the conflict, humanitarian gaps were still identified hence the continued distribution of core relief items. In June 2018, UNHCR went to Barangay Guimba and West Pantar, and distributed plastic tarpaulins, clothing, and blankets.

uniqlo 5

As part of our World Refugee Day activities in June 2018, we teamed up with global partner Uniqlo for mass clothing distribution in several transitory shelters. Clothes and other relief items were distributed to more than 300 families around the areas of Guimba, West Pantar, and the Sarimanok evacuation center in Poblacion, Marawi. (© UNHCR/Martin San Diego)


UNHCR Philippines continues its protection monitoring activities in several communities in Marawi. Our field staff consistently make rounds in these transitory shelters to monitor the state of the people, consult with the IDPs, and help them identify their potential needs. This photo was taken around the area of Marinaut, one of the Barangays in Marawi that was most damaged by the conflict.

Mindanao Photo Series -16

In 2019, as we inch into the third stage of our support, we have arranged several Quick Impact Projects to help the Maranaos get back on their feet. In Barangay Poona Marantao, there were a lot of dressmakers who lost their business when conflict erupted. UNHCR has provided sewing machines for these dressmakers, and they now have a stable communal dress shop in the community, and this is being developed into a cooperative. (© UNHCR/Lyka Gonzalez)

BF - Water 2

After the conflict, water became a very scarce resource for the families in Mindanao. Beginning in late 2018, UNHCR and its partners started to build sustainable solutions to make sure that clean water flows through the communities and transitory shelters. UNHCR mended the water system of more than five barangays, providing more than 500 people a reliable source of clean water.