MARAWI CITY - Thirty-one people who fled fighting fighting between soldiers and Islamic State-inspired extremists have died due to disease, a health official said Wednesday.
Eight of the fatalities were due to diarrhea and severe dehydration while the others were due to stroke, pneumonia and blood infection, said Alinader Minalang, head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office.
Other common in evacuation shelters include acute respiratory tract infection, skin diseases, hypertension, and fever, Minalang said, adding IV fluids, antibiotics and water purifying tablets were in short supply.
Minalang also raised concern over child malnutrition as fighting raged for the 44th day.
"Base sa aming findings, maraming nagiging malnourished na baby at mga bata. Umaasa kasi sa mga relief goods, pati parents nagkakaroon din ng problema," he said.
(Based on our findings, many babies and children are becoming malnourished because they are dependent on relief goods. Even parents are having problems.)
The medical station in Saguiaran Evacuation Center is packed with patients of various diseases, mostly children.
Hafis Omar, 4 months old, was diagnosed with a viral infection or meningitis, and doctors recommended further tests.
"Nagtitiis ako wala akong pera. Gusto ko gumaling agad pero hindi ko madala, sana gumaling siya na parang normal na bata," the infant's mother, Samsia Omar, said in tears.
(I endure having no money. I want my baby to get well soon but I cannot bring him to a hospital. I want him to get well like a normal child.)
Two-month-old Saino Panaarad has been placed on an IV drip due to persistent coughing and fever.
"Hindi makahinga tapos mga sipon lumalabas. Maraming lumalabas, sabi ng doctor maraming plema sa ubo," his mother Hasmin said.
(My baby can't breathe and he has colds. The doctor said my baby has a lot of phlegm due to colds.)
The total number of displaced persons due to the fighting in Marawi is estimated at 299,183 individuals or 63,000 families, spread across evacuation centers or homes of friends and relatives.
On Wednesday, authorities conducted psychosocial activities for evacuees in Saguiaran. There were ballons, magic shows, games, and ice cream--similar to that of a children's party.
The local government has also began putting up a temporary shelter in Marawi to decongest evacuation centers.
"Ayaw namin dun malapit sa giyera. Baka matakot silang mga bata, natakot na nga sila sa putukan punta pa kami dun," said evacuee Farhana Hassan.
(We don't want to stay near the conflict zone. The children might get scared. They are already scared of gunshots and yet we'll still go there.)
"Magiging mahirap unang una hindi tulad dito sementado dun pinatag lang tinanggal lang ang mga damo, magiging kalabaw ang dating magpuputok, kahit nahirapan kami dito mas gusto namin," said Norodin Casim.
(It will be difficult because unlike here where the floors are cemented, authorities there just removed the grass. We'll be like carabaos. Even if it is difficult here, we would rather stay here.)
Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra earlier said the location of the temporary shelter would be safe from attacks and stray bullets.
Brig. Gen. Ramiro Rey, head of Joint Task Group Lanao said the temporary shelters would be convenient for the evacuees.
"Hindi lang tent ang ilalagay kundi something presentable and acceptable sa mga Maranao," Rey said.
(We will not just put up tents. It will be something presentable and acceptable to Maranaos.)