CHRISTIANS STILL HOMELESS TWO YEARS ON FROM THE MARAWI SIEGE IN THE PHILIPPINES

Two years after Islamic militants laid siege to the Philippine city of Marawi, Christians are still living in temporary shelters despite being desperate to return to their communities.

On May 23, 2017 hundreds of armed members of an ISIS-linked militant group stormed into the city of Marawi in the Philippines. During the five month siege that followed, 1,000 people died and more than 300,000 people were displaced

Now, two years after the war broke out, more than 2,000 families are still in temporary shelters and more than 11,000 families are still living with relatives and friends.

The ongoing military operation of clearing undetonated bombs and landmines and building delays have stopped people from being able to move back to the city.

Open Doors fieldworker Hadassah* said, “I’m still sad that until now some of the believers are still in the temporary shelter. They are continuously praying that the LGU (local government unit) will allow them to go back to their area and rebuild their houses again. By God’s grace they were able to face the discomfort and thrive amidst difficulties, but they still long to go back to their community.

“Many of the believers were scattered in different communities in Marawi and far from the church, but I am encouraged that during fellowship meetings and worship they took time to come together and strengthen each other.”

‘Open Doors’ (Christian charity) helped repair a church damaged in the fighting: “The believers were rejoicing also when the church building was renovated,” Hadassah said. “To them this was a manifestation of God’s faithfulness to the church.

“Despite of what had happened last two years ago, I’m still grateful to God for opening more doors to minister to the Christians, both from Christian backgrounds and Muslim backgrounds, in Marawi. His name be honoured and glorified.”

When the siege started, Open Doors provided vital relief – food, water, and clothing – to people in evacuation centres. After liberation was declared on October 22, 2017, Open Doors worked through local contacts to provide financial support to Christians to help them to rebuild their homes or start small businesses.

Open Doors also provided a Crisis Management Seminar for 30 pastors and students from Marawi, helping them create a contingency plan in case another crisis happens and provided trauma counselling for over a hundred children and adults.

*Name changed for security reasons.

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