126,835 individuals are still displaced due to the Marawi conflict in May 2017. Thanks to donors and partners, UNHCR continues to give life-saving assistance, protect the well-being and safeguard the rights of the most vulnerable.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, UNHCR continues to respond to the protection needs of the most vulnerable forcibly displaced families in Mindanao, who are also facing the threat of conflict and natural disasters. More than one-third of the 351,647 forcibly displaced individuals in Mindanao have been displaced since the 2017 Marawi conflict.
It has been more than three years since Asnairah Guinato and her family left their home at the height of the Marawi conflict. They currently live in Sagonsongan Area 2, and are one of the 2,954 families who remain in various transitory sites in Lanao del Sur.
Still unable to return home after three years of being displaced, protection risks and insecurity remain as their top concerns. While the transitory site provides their family with better living conditions and more privacy, the challenges remain and are now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the 7th of August 2020, UNHCR distributed hygiene kits to 270 forcibly displaced families in Sagonsongan Area 2 Transitory Site. Asnairah expressed her gratitude to UNHCR and the donors and partners who made this possible.
Hygiene kits have been given to a total of 1,968 forcibly displaced families in transitory sites across Marawi during the first two weeks of August. These hygiene kits are critical especially during this time when the coronavirus puts them at greater risk.
5 Aug 2020: UNHCR Philippines in partnership with ACTED Philippines and in coordination with Task Force Bangon Marawi distributed hygiene kits to 345 forcibly displaced families in Sagonsongan (Area 6) Transitory Shelters in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
6 Aug 2020: UNHCR Philippines, in partnership with Kapamagogopa Inc. and in coordination with Task Force Bangon Marawi and Marawi City Social Welfare and Development Office, provided hygiene kits to 859 families currently staying at Boganga Transitory Site in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
7 Aug 2020: UNHCR Philippines distributed hygiene kits to 270 forcibly displaced families currently staying in Sagonsongan Area 2 Transitory Site in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. UNHCR works with the government and partners like ACTED Philippines and Task Force Bangon Marawi to ensure that the most vulnerable families are protected and equipped to respond to this global health pandemic.
7 Aug 2020: UNHCR Philippines, in partnership with ACTED Philippines and in coordination with Marawi City Social Welfare and Development Office and Task Force Bangon Marawi, delivered hygiene kits to 280 IDP families in Rorogagus Phase 2 Transitory Site, Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
11 Aug 2020: The challenges currently faced by displaced families in Marawi City are compounded by the #COVID19 pandemic, and delivery of basic services is most needed during these challenging times. UNHCR, in partnership with Kapamagogopa Inc., distributed hygiene kits to 189 families in Sagonsongan Area 5 Transitory Site.
In the past three years, thanks to the kindness of individual donors and our partners on the ground, UNHCR has been able to reach the families displaced by the Marawi conflict. Together, we continue to give life-saving assistance, protect the well-being and safeguard the rights of the most vulnerable, and deliver quick impact projects that help them live in dignity and safety. However, many still live in displacement and continue to face difficulty in accessing services and rebuilding their lives.
Families like Asnairah’s face water insufficiency and sanitation issues due to lack of proper waste disposal and WASH facilities. Public health facilities are also situated remotely from the transitory sites, making access to health care more difficult. There are no standby emergency vehicles in the transitory sites which could be of valuable use especially that there are limited public utility vehicles available due to community lockdown. COVID-19 exacerbates the challenges they face.
In Marawi and across Mindanao, UNHCR Philippines works in partnership with government and other humanitarian organisations to ensure that life-saving aid and services remain intact, despite the challenges in movement due to stricter public health measures, enforced community lockdowns and government precautions in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
UNHCR Field Associates like Jalanie Pangalian have been busy on ground, ensuring that the most vulnerable families are protected and equipped to respond to the coronavirus. For Jalanie, presence is a critical part of protection. He starts every protection monitoring visit with a kumustahan – asking families how they are doing. With the recent distributions of hygiene kits, he can really feel the sincere gratitude of the displaced families. One of the IDPs even expressed relief that they now have rubbing alcohol as there is insufficient water to use for handwashing in the transitory sites.
Being in this nature of work for a decade now, Jalanie draws fulfillment in being able to help and bring smiles to the faces of the most vulnerable. “I see myself as an instrument in filling the protection needs of these vulnerable people – vulnerable in a sense that they lost their home, their habitual residence, their safe haven, and properties which oftentimes affect their financial, social, physical and even emotional stability.”
Amid the pandemic, the well-being of UNHCR’s persons of concern has been at the centre of its COVID-19 prevention and response efforts. Physical distancing has required UNHCR and partners to draw on adaptive capabilities, leverage diverse channels and modalities of communication, and rapidly scale up practices to ensure that staff, partners and communities can continue to deliver during this exceptionally challenging time.
With your help, UNHCR Philippines has delivered core relief items such as hygiene kits in these transitory sites, supported the government in providing basic services and relief assistance to IDPs in evacuation centers and host communities, and conducted awareness raising sessions and distribution of IEC materials on COVID key messaging translated to local language. These activities are conducted by UNHCR to achieve greater protection and take concrete steps towards durable solutions for IDPs.
While responding to the COVID-19 crisis is a priority, ensuring the delivery of regular programmes to provide critical protection and life-saving support to the more than 300,000 forcibly displaced families in Mindanao continues.