EDITORIAL| In dire straits

THREE weeks into the clash in Marawi City, evacuation centers continue to accommodate families seeking shelter and security from the war. Agencies are working double time to serve those who are now in temporary shelters in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur,  Iligan City and Balo-i, Lanao del Norte, identified as having the most number of internally displaced persons.

The Department of Health said that 3,158 families or 15,278 individuals are staying in 78 evacuation centers. Those who chose to stay with relatives and friends reach an estimated  59,097 families. The huge number of evacuees have needs to be met, especially schoolchildren, the elderly, mothers and very young children.

As war rages on in Marawi, there are families who are still looking for their children or parents left in the ensuing chaos. Some do not even know if their relatives have perished in the war or are in hiding, suffering lack of food and water.

Compounded with that worry, living in evacuation centers with many other families is in itself difficult. Living in cramped quarters and lacking comfortable hygienic conditions are common fare in these shelters. These families who have worked all their lives and relied on themselves are faced with the grim reality of depending on relief agencies to survive.

One of the risks they face with the onset of the rainy season is their health situation. Dengue usually spikes at this time of the year and the mosquito-borne disease would be devastating to an already vulnerable community. The International Committee of the Red Cross has already warned of the dengue outbreak with the wet season.

The health department has also reported that upper respiratory tract infection, hypertension, and allergies have become prevalent in the past weeks.

While the government has appropriated budget to  respond to the needs of the evacuees, this is not enough. We pin our hopes on the Armed Forces of the Philippines who are on the frontlines, risking lives and limbs to end this war that has taken the lives of so many soldiers and civilians, and rendering thousands of families impoverished.

Posted in Opinion