ND029 – Relief for Philippine residents after opening of roads
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Relief for Philippine residents after opening of roads

But only humanitarians receive access to Marawi City

Humanitarian aid workers will get access to the Philippine city of Marawi following the decision to reopen two roads. Lanao del Sur provincial government stated that the two access points connecting Marawi to the other areas of the province would be opened specifically for passage of agencies doing humanitarian work. The general public remains locked out.

Conflict of Marawi between government and extremists

Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong said that it had long been the wish of the local government to open not only the Guimba Bridge but also the national highway in Matampay so that the inhabitants of the peripheries of Marawi would get access to relief assistance and essential commodities. Humanitarian aid workers have been frustrated in their efforts to deliver basic services to the residents since the roads closed two months ago. However, this comes amid concerns that the two accesses could be exploited by terrorists of the Maute Group seeking to sneak out of the conflict zone.

The roads were shut down following the intense fighting between government forces and extremist fighters in Marawi. The conflict has been ongoing for over a couple of months now, and martial law has been declared in the Mindanao region until the end of the year.

Adiong said at least ten towns in his district are indirectly affected by the conflict since people use these roads to buy goods in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Due to the current scarcity, the price of rice has tripled.

The lawmaker tentatively set the reopening of Guimba Bridge and Matampay highway on July 26. Roads will be utilized strictly for medical and humanitarian relief operations. "If opened, it would at least give access to the traffic of goods and relief assistance. It would be convenient and more accessible," Adiong said in an interview to Philippine newspaper Sun Star.

For the lawyer and activist Salic Dumarpa of Sautol Haqq, this isn’t enough.  He proclaimed it would be best to open the roads to the public so that evacuees could travel to their relatives in other parts of Lanao del Sur. "For humanitarian reason and to serve the public interest, it behooves upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines to open the immediately preceding roads to the public, subject to such reasonable conditions as may be required by the AFP in the interest of Security," read a statement from the multi-sectoral group Sautol Haqq.

As a humanitarian worker, you depend on excellent, accurate and reliable information about your travel destinations. Planning to go to the Philippines for relief assistance? Please contact your nearest Raptim office.