Last week deadly violence broke out on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines. We are in regular touch with our local partner, Kapamagogopa Incorporated (KI), that works in the area. Here is an update from the ground about the situation, and what KI is doing in response.
The situation is worsening, with heavy bombing of Marawi, Philippines, by the military. Iligan and other areas are dealing with a huge influx of evacuees. As of the morning of Sunday 28 May, there are reports of more fighters appearing in Marawi.
Effect on KI’s work
KI staff, volunteers and alumni are all affected by the violence. All had family or friends trapped in Marawi on Tuesday when the violence erupted.
Aiza, Adonis and Amihan* all travelled to Marawi on Wednesday to rescue relatives. The normal 45 minute journey from Iligan took hours and hours due to the huge outflow of people and many strict checkpoints due to the imposition of Martial Law.
Amihan had her family house burned. It is not clear if it was bombed. It took Aiza 14 hours to go to Marawi and back to rescue her nieces from the University campus. Adonis rescued his family who are now staying with his in-laws. There are more stories to tell from the previous KI volunteers.
KI is currently the convenor of MERN (Mindanao Emergency Response Network) made up of NGOs based in Lanao area.
KI is coordinating data gathering of evacuees, KI staff and current volunteers are involved in this, especially those who are home-based evacuees. KI is also helping to provide relief at evacuation centres and attending coordination meetings of the government and other agencies.
KIKI is lucky to have both Adonis and Amihan as staff. Both are very experienced as they previously worked on Typhoon Haiyan response. Other KI alumni are also involved, like those who were involved in the relief effort after the 2008 conflict.
Conditions on the ground
This is a very difficult time for KI, and all Maranaos. They are having to deal with their evacuated friends and family. They are having to deal with the news and pictures of the destruction of their beloved Marawi City. They are having to deal with the humanitarian crises in Iligan and surrounding areas. They are having to deal with upset and confusion that this violence is being perpetrated by so-called fellow Muslims. They are having to deal with the imposition of Martial Law (and the historical fear this brings). And above all it is Ramadan, it is supposed to be a time of joy and reflection.
It is very difficult to ascertain what is really happening on the ground, there is a lot of false information and theories.
One of the concerns is if the conflict continues what will happen in Iligan City. KI staff and volunteers as you can imagine are extremely busy. But we will continue to do everything we can to support those affected by violence.
*names changed for security reasons
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