Marawi: the Philippine City Besieged

A men assessing damage to his home after his return to Marawi A men assessing damage to his home after his return to Marawi Wues Bruer/IRIN

10 June 2018

In late May of 2017, over 500 Islamic militants began a five-month takeover in the city of Marawi in Mindanao, a Philippine island. A year later in 2018, over 237,000 people are still without their homes and the city remains in destitution.

The army’s efforts to displace the militants belonging to the Maute group through counter attacks forced over 350,000 people out of the area and killed over a thousand people. There is a dispute between the government and local organizations over the actual death total for civilians; one claiming only a few dozen and the other estimating over a thousand innocents are unaccounted for.

The people of Marawi and the Philippines are largely Catholic, but the city of Marawi has come to be officially known as the Islamic City of Marawi due to the large Muslim presence. This has been accompanied by the attacks of the supporters of the violent Islamic terrorist group, ISIS. ISIS is widely known for their bloody executions and sieges in the Middle East, in particular their extreme assaults in Iraq. Their radical ideology and the large anti-government movement in the Philippines culminated into this mass destruction and murder of the people of this city, with advanced tactics taken from ISIS and their Middle Eastern destruction.

The government officially concluded the siege in October of 2017, but reconstruction has been paused and slowed to the point that those most affected will not be able to return home for over a year and a half. The local economies and businesses are in shambles, and this has made the situation even more dire for those who have returned to find their home is destroyed. Despite attempts made by the government to rebuild the trust in their people, the political and social realm are very tense, with religious conflicts and anger towards the political leaders becoming increasingly more difficult to cope with. Thousands are struggling to rebuild their lives in the area while Mindanao still remains under martial law, with many citizens largely still in a camp for internally-displaced people outside of the city.


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