Residents of Philippines' Marawi begin long trudge back to normalcy as battle ends
By Roli Ng
MARAWI CITY, Philippines, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Marawi resident
Baimona Amintao hopes her turn comes quickly once authorities
begin raffling off the first batch of temporary shelters for
those who lost their homes to the five-month battle to retake
the southern Philippine city from Islamist militants.
Amintao and her five children were among the thousands of
families displaced since fighting erupted in Marawi on May 23,
when security forces tried to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, Islamic
State's "emir" in Southeast Asia.
The Philippines on Monday announced the end of military
operations in Marawi after a fierce and unfamiliar urban war in
the country's biggest security crisis in years, paving the way
for rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts to begin.
More than 1,000 transitional houses, with basic bathroom and
cooking facilities, could be completed within two months on the
outskirts of Marawi, the Philippine housing agency has said.
Residents whose homes were devastated will get first
priority in allotment raffles that could be held either before
or after construction.
"I hope I can be included in the raffle and be able to stay
there for my children's well-being," Amintao, 26, who formerly
owned a small grocery store, told Reuters.
"Many people here prioritise their children since many of
the kids cannot stand living inside the tents and are getting
The government estimates the rebuilding of Marawi could cost
at least 50 billion pesos ($971 million).
Authorities said 920 militants, 165 troops and police and at
least 45 civilians were killed in the conflict, which displaced
more than 300,000 people.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the southern
island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located, under martial rule
to help security forces in crushing the rebel movement.
The rebel occupation stunned a military inexperienced in
urban combat and stoked wider concerns that Islamic State
loyalists have gained influence among local Muslims and have
ambitions to use the island as a base for Southeast Asia
Those fears are compounded by the organization of the
militant alliance and its ability to recruit young fighters,
lure foreign radicals, stockpile huge amounts of arms and endure
154 days of ground offensive and air strikes.
The social welfare department said more than 5,000 families
still live in covered gymnasiums and tent cities.
"I could not fathom what happened to our village and I hope
this does not happen again," said Alniah Magoyag, a village
official. "No more terrorists in Marawi City."
($1=51.4910 Philippine pesos)
(Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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