BALO-I, Lanao del Norte -- The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Marawi City has reached 176,920 as of May 30, more than two thirds of the city's estimated population.
Of the total, 79,175 individuals are staying in 38 evacuation centers in different parts of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Misamis Oriental, said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Provincial Government.
The other 97,745 individuals sought refuge with relatives and friends throughout Northern Mindanao and Armm.
With population estimated to be around 200,000, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said a significant number of IDPs may have evaded documentation and may have left the city during the first days of the siege.
“The evacuation center here in Gomampong Ali Cultural Center is the biggest here with around 170 families or 700 individuals. But we still have several more IDPs in six other evacuation centers in Balo-i which are in barangays (villages) Nangka, Maria Christina, Sarip-Alawi, Landa, Pacalundo and Matampay,” said Qaharoddin Ali, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management officer of Balo-I.
Candida Noor, 70, a resident from Barangay Matampay in Marawi City, said that their main problem in the evacuation center is additional assistance.
“We do get relief goods but that is barely enough especially when there are so many of us, we need essentials; personal needs such as for hygiene as well as adequate meals especially for the children like milk. Most of the children and even adults here also lack slippers that is why most of them are walking barefoot,” said Noor.
Majority of the evacuees complain about the ventilation of the evacuation area, as their numbers grow, they fear that the intense heat would lead to sickness especially among children and the elderly.
“We’ve been here for four days, and no one has even made a way of just providing means to alleviate the intense heat. With this kind of heat, and then the cold concrete floor, it is just a matter of time that most of our children, especially the infants will get cough and colds,” said Abdul Karem Dikasalam, 48, a resident of Barangay Papadayan.
Dikasalam, who left Marawi City on the third day of the fighting, added that it is especially difficult for him since he has six children and his wife with him.
Most of the Maranaos in the evacuation centers pointed out that majority of them have more than six children.
“I think it is part of our culture as Maranaos, having more than six children, I have 10 children and 2 of them are already married with children of their own. The problem is that we are all here in the evacuation center which makes it harder as none of us are presently working and earning,” said Kalib Galorio.
The Office of Civil Defense and the DSWD-Northern Mindanao both admitted that they are trying to finalize and consolidate the data as most of the evacuees sought refuge in the region while Marawi City is under the Armm.
Like and follow SunStar Philippines on Facebook.