MANILA- Local authorities are still verifying reports that some residents who fled besieged Marawi City have died in evacuation centers, provincial crisis management committee spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong said Saturday.
In a press briefing in Marawi, Adiong cited reports of deaths in evacuation centers due to dehydration and pre-existing health conditions.
“We’re still consolidating the data. We cannot give you an accurate description insofar as the cause of death, but based on what we have received so far, most of the cases are dehydration and pre-existing health conditions,” he said.
Residents displaced from conflict-torn Marawi have been reporting illnesses, including fever and diarrhea, as they were forced to stay in evacuation centers amid ongoing government offensives in the city.
Most of the displaced have been staying in evacuation centers in Marawi's neighboring Iligan City.
Government forces were met with resistance by Abu Sayyaf and Maute extremists in Marawi City on May 23 after soldiers tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Four weeks into the crisis, Adiong said addressing the needs of evacuees has been “pretty tough” given the number of those in need of help.
“It’s going to be pretty tough in terms of how we respond to the needs of evacuees, especially that we’re dealing with 233,000,” he said, noting that the crisis has already affected nearby towns and cities.
He said regional social welfare offices have also been tapped by the national government to aid evacuees.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad on Thursday said the government was considering building tent cities for displaced civilians in conflict-torn Marawi City and surrounding areas in case the number of evacuees would swell and if the crisis would continue.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Philippines on Saturday also raised concerns on sanitation issues in evacuation centers, particularly the safety of drinking water available to evacuees.
More than 300 have died, among them 26 civilians and 59 government troops, since clashes erupted on May 23.