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news | February 20, 2018 | Philippines | Emergency

Recovering decent living conditions in displacement: Chay's story

It has been more than 6 months since Marawi conflict erupted and Chay and her family are still living in an evacuation centre. They are from the city centre, known as “ground zero”, where the fighting was most intense and the destructions most severe. The city centre is still a restricted area due to the destructions and the presence of land-mines, and the family doesn’t know when they will be able to return home. They fled the day after hostilities began and eventually arrived in this evacuation centre, a private school located in Baloi, north of Marawi City.

Lives turned upside down

Upon their arrival in the evacuation centre, no food or water were available. Chaos reigned in the centre, with children constantly crying out of thirst and hunger, families are left with no food nor other essential items, no privacy and no beds, nor even simple mattresses to lie on. Chay stated that her family’s life had been knocked down, along with all hopes of a return to normal. “Every time I cook, the smoke of the charcoal makes me cry. I remember our life in Marawi, we were not rich but life was peaceful. We had proper cooking tools and proper jobs. Here we have no incomes, we only depend on relief goods. I can’t even buy milk for my three-year-old son, as we do not have enough money for that.”

Relief in chaos

Keeping with its strategy to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, ACTED implemented a programme to support displaced people following Marawi’s conflict. Chay and her families were among the beneficiaries of ACTED cash distribution, which proved to be of great relief. “I was able to buy milk for my son, fresh vegetables, fruits and fish, as well as a rice cooker,” she said, easing a little bit the difficulties of life in the evacuation centre. “With the rice cooker, no more tears when I cook.” She even bought cosmetics for herself, which made her feel to regain a little bit of her previous, normal life.

Her husband is working for the construction of transitional sites, designed to host displaced people before they can eventually return to their home. However, Chay’s family is not included in the list of priority occupants. They will soon have to leave the building they are currently occupying, as the school administrator had only agreed for their presence over a limited duration. Chay doesn’t know where they will go. They are not yet allowed to return home as clearing operations in the city are still ongoing. She wants to go back to Marawi and start rebuilding their lives, and is looking forward to finding ways to sustain her family’s needs for the future.

ACTED recently conducted an assessment to design a project aiming at supporting livelihood opportunities of returnees in Marawi.

  • More than 400,000 individuals have been displaced following the eruption of the conflict in Marawi City, of which only 40% have returned. The majority of the families is not expected to return before mid-end 2018.
  • In December 2017, ACTED conducted a post distribution monitoring with displaced people from Marawi. More than 80% of the interviewed people declared not having any income since May 2017 and the start of the conflict.