DSWD tackles overcrowding, language barrier in Marawi crisis

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2017 11:49 AM | Updated as of Jun 28 2017 12:58 PM

MANILA - The Department of Social Welfare and Development is facing a number of challenges in providing help to displaced residents of Marawi City including overcrowding, the language barrier and even the reluctance of some evacuees to register themselves. 

DSWD Undersecretary Hope Hervilla said the number of evacuees has ballooned to at least 80,000 families, adding that Maranao families are usually big.

"We have evacuation centers that are overcrowded. We need to put up more evacuation centers. We have tents near the [overcrowded] evacuation centers," she told ANC on Wednesday.

While around 90% of the total number of evacuees are staying in the houses of their relatives, Hervilla said the 81 evacuation centers are still not enough to accommodate those who are not home-based.

She said DSWD will be doubling its efforts to reach home-based evacuees in days to come as the initial focus of their relief efforts are the displaced residents in the evacuation centers.

"It's really a challenge how to take care, how to manage all these evacuees that are home-based," Hervilla said, adding that they are also discussing how to help families sponsoring their displaced relatives.

Meanwhile, the DSWD official said social workers are also facing language barrier as Maranaos are more comfortable speaking in their native tongue. She said they only have a few Maranao-speaking social workers.

Some Maranaos, too, Hervilla said, refuse to register their names in the evacuation centers because they are embarrassed. She said Maranaos take pride in their being self-reliant, and being in this difficult situation is a big blow to their proud culture.

"They have pride of being self-reliant, self-sufficient, and now they are asking help from the government. It's a feeling of lowering your dignity and being very dependent on government assistance," she said.