With twins under the age of five years old and two sons with a disability, it has been difficult since 7 weeks for Seria and her family who have been displaced by the violent siege in Marawi that erupted on May 23rd 2017. “I never imagine about war in Marawi City because Marawi City is a peaceful place, people are usually busy in the market or in the street attending their business” Seria recounts as she stands in the makeshift window of the poulty house she and her family now call home.
With the limited number of emergency centres available, Seria and her family first sought shelter in a friend’s house in Barangay Lininding, in Balo-I. However, after 3 days the shelter became to congested as 6 families were staying in it. Therefore, Seria and her family moved into the poultry house next door, which they have been able to clean and repair through kind donations of neighbours. Around 347,218 people, 94% of those displaced by the conflict, are in the same situation as Seria and her family, staying in home-based shelters of friends or relatives. They lack adequate access to registration with local authorities and assistance. Relief assistance by government and relief agencies have focused on people displaced inside evacuation centres, excluding majority of those affected by the conflict.
ACTED’s emergency assistance, in cooperation with Action Against Hunger through support from START Network, however was able to reach Seria and her family as relief operations have focused on reaching those most vulnerable home-based. Seria explains how “transportation costs hamper us to access relief because most humanitarian organizations preferred distribution points along the highway that is why we are very thankful that ACTED came to us and deliver the items just in front of our temporary shelter”. The non-food items and hygiene kit have been essential to the family as they fled Marawi without time to collect belongs and have lost their source of income.
Seria still has several worries that keep her up at night. There is no milk for her 2 year olds twin, her 2 sons with a walking impairment have never been seen by a doctor and her four years old child has pneumonia. Although medical support has been provided to rural health centres and hospitals, with no income, Seria is unable to pay for the transportation cost to collect the medication for her son. She hopes that the conflict in Marawi will end soon so that they can return home. Even if the conflict ends seems unlikely, Seria may stay in the poultry house with her children, as what remains after weeks of aerial bombing and fierce gunfire is unknown.