MANILA -Thousands of Filipinos remained displaced as the government continues its rehabilitation efforts a year after Marawi was besieged by militants, Save the Children Philippines said Wednesday.
The aid agency said only 23,000 families were able to return to their homes from more than 350,000 people who fled the city when the conflict broke out.
"The children of Marawi are still suffering a year after fighting broke out. They’ve been displaced from their homes in large numbers, and are uncertain about the future, and what will become of their lives. This is no way for a child to live," Save the Children Philippines CEO Alberto Muyot said.
The remaining Marawi residents are either living with relatives or schools used as evacuation centers.
"Many families have no choice but to live in cramped evacuation centers where they rely on support from aid agencies and the government for food, clean drinking water and basic hygiene items," Muyot added.
Save the Children Philippines said nearly half of the 62,000 children who fled Marawi did not re-enroll in school this past year.
"This is largely because school buildings were occupied by displaced families, their parents couldn’t afford basic learning materials and uniforms, families were staying too far away, or children didn’t feel comfortable in the host school," it said in a statement.
Save the Children Philippines had set up 28 temporary learning spaces to help cope with the number of new enrollments and distributed some 4,000 school kits to children.
The aid agency is closely working with several government agencies, such as the Department of Education (DepEd) in providing psychosocial support to teachers and students.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, meanwhile, urged the public to remain vigilant as the battle in Marawi marks its first anniversary Wednesday.
"We cannot afford to let this happen again, and this requires collective effort towards securing our homes, our cities, and our region," he said in a statement.
Constant dialogue with every Bangsamoro is also important to achieve peace and security, Hataman said.
"As we struggle and work towards rebuilding the city of Marawi, we must also strive to rebuild the foundations of local leadership and reestablish safe spaces for the most vulnerable in our communities," he said.
"Marawi will rise again, and it will rise with the renewed strength and courage of our people."