Marawi (Agenzia Fides) - On May 23, a year ago, the invasion of terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State that barricaded themselves in the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao began. Over 360,000 refugees were forced to flee the city, while the siege of the Philippine army began, which lasted five months of intense fighting.
Today, Christians and Muslims are committed to promoting peace and harmony in Marawi. "The Prelature of Marawi works tirelessly to promote peace, respect, equality and love between Christians and Muslims in our community", says Maria Teresa Soriano, a Catholic university professor in Marawi to Fides. Priests, nuns and lay people are working to motivate and inspire young and old people to commit themselves to rebuilding their lives and homes in the immediate aftermath of the destruction, notes Soriano. Bishop Edwin de la Peña, at the head of the Prelature of Marawi launched an appeal to all the people "to work together for the reconstruction of Marawi". Meanwhile, the government has started rebuilding the city and the rehabilitation of displaced persons with a detailed plan, through the assistance of international humanitarian agencies and governments around the world. It may take about four years to rebuild the city.
However, the alarming presence of radical groups that are gathering in the regions of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, in rural areas outside the city of Marawi and in other provinces of Mindanao has not ceased.
The security situation in Mindanao continues to remain precarious and the martial law is still in force. The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) - which is Caritas of the Philippines - has launched and distributed a collection of funds for the rehabilitation program underway in the city of Marawi in all dioceses.
In particular, the Caritas of the diocese of Manila assisted the displaced families in Marawi, providing food and hygiene assistance, means of subsistence, psycho-social support to children and welcoming about 500 displaced, Christian and Muslim families. "It is urgent to witness the mercy and love of Christ to those who need it in Marawi", explained Fr. Anton CT Pascual, Executive Director of Caritas Manila. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/5/2018)