Marawi residents return to devastated city homeless, looking to rebuild

World Today

The Philippine city of Marawi is recovering from a five-month long battle between government forces and a pro-ISIL group. The local government is now allowing residents to return back to their homes.

But as CGTN’s Barnaby Lo reports, some may have to wait years before their homes can be rebuilt.

For a year and a half in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, families had to stay away from their homes because of intense war. Last week, they were finally able to return.

Even though they didn’t come back to perfect conditions, they’re too happy to care.

“Everyone in our family is alive, and our home is at least still intact,” resident Aina Hadji Bashir said.

Parts of Marawi are indeed slowly coming back to life, with many shops open for business and students back in school. But these were communities relatively unaffected by the battle against ISIL followers.

A little more than a quarter of Marawi City was severely damaged or destroyed, those sections being in the heart of the city. Thousands of people lived here, with thousands more relying on the area for their livelihoods. And they still can’t return.

The government plans to move a number of them to shelters. The hope is to be able to accommodate 500 households by the end of the year.

“But since the families that were affected in the most affected area is around 6,000 families, the Sagonsongan facility will not be enough,” according to Felix Castro of Task Force Bangon Marawi.

For the time being, most of will have to remain in evacuation camps, where living conditions are less than ideal. Some rely solely on handouts, and there is often not enough to eat because of some families being so large.

But because they’ve lost everything, they say they have no choice except to wait for help.