International News

Caritas Philippines appeals for help, fears malnutrition in Marawi

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Catholic News Service (CNS photo/Linus G. Escandor II, EPA) 
 
Caritas in the Philippines is appealing for help for 400,000 people displaced in Marawi as fears grow of malnutrition and displacement problems resulting from ongoing terrorist attacks.
 
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, also is seeking help to restore Marawi's St Mary's Cathedral, reported ucanews.com. He said it was important to restore the central place of worship of the Catholic community in the predominantly Muslim city on Mindanao Island.
 
 Displaced villagers take shelter in early June at a gymnasium turned into a temporary evacuation center as fighting between Islamist militants and government forces continues in Marawi City, Philippines. (CNS photo/Linus G. Escandor II, EPA) 
 
The Maute group, which claims to have links with Islamic State, launched terrorist attacks on 23 May, resulting in a standoff with Philippine security forces.
 
Gunmen took the cathedral's vicar, Father Teresito Soganub, hostage and destroyed religious images, including photographs of Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict XVI, as they rampaged inside the church.
 
Father Soganub was freed on 17 September.
 
Government casualties have continued to rise as the conflict drags on, despite repeated promises by Philippine military commanders that it will soon be resolved. As of on 8 October, at least 158 soldiers and police had been killed in action and more than a 1,000 wounded. The military said on 9 October that 774 militants had been killed and up to 48 militants were holding their positions — about 12 acres — with the aid of improvised explosive devices.
 
‘I hope we continue to help those affected by the war so that they can go back to their normal lives,’ Father Gariguez said.
 
 Father Teresito Soganub, who was released after being held captive by the Maute terror since 23 May, is pictured in mid-March inside St Mary's Cathedral in Marawi, Philippines. Caritas in the Philippines is appealing for help to restore the cathedral and for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by ongoing terrorist attacks. (CNS photo/Darren Whiteside, Reuters
 
On 10 October, Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi said the diocese would be confronted with a malnutrition crisis after the conflict is resolved.
 
Bishop de la Pena warned that the terrorists continued to recruit fighters, especially young men, in Marawi and surrounding areas.
 
‘We have been exerting efforts to counter their recruitment activities,’ said the bishop, adding that the ‘unending war in Mindanao’ was the reason for the extreme poverty and terrorism in the region.
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