Six Years Since Siege, IOM And Korea Strengthen Marawi’s Resilience; Fostering Community Collaboration and Restoring Safe Spaces
MARAWI, Philippines — The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Government of the Republic of Korea through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Government celebrated the close of a three year rehabilitation project in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and more broadly in BARMM.
The 2-day event brought together representatives from the Marawi City Local Government Unit, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), BARMM-Marawi Rehabilitation Program Management Office, Integrated Public Health Office of Tawi-Tawi, and Community Working Group members from 72 barangays across Marawi City. Attendees shared testimonies on the positive impacts of the project, discussed challenges encountered, and envisioned their hopes for their communities moving forward.
In his message, Bangsamoro Deputy Chief Minister – Mainland Aleem Ali Solaiman highlighted the importance of this event. “Today's conference holds great importance as we gather to exchange knowledge, experiences, best practices and lessons learned. It provides a platform for us to celebrate the meaningful participation of communities and share their inspiring stories of rehabilitation and transitional action.”
A key achievement of this partnership was the handover of 51 social infrastructure initiatives that address religious, educational, and socioeconomic needs and community safe spaces to each of the 72 participating barangays across Marawi. Residents can now seek psychosocial support through an established Mental Health and Psychosocial Referral System. These spaces also provide refuge for vulnerable women and children who need assistance from the dedicated Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) desk.
“A multi-stakeholder and participatory approach in designing these safe spaces was undertaken to ensure that the particular protection, psychosocial, and social care needs of the communities are supported,” shared KIM Eunsub, Country Director of KOICA Philippines. “Now, the barangays will have a dedicated venue which could be used for psychosocial support activities, counselling, health care, training, religious teaching, and day care for children,” he added.
Infrastructure is being managed by established Community-based Working Groups (CWGs) who continue to play a crucial role in engaging residents in their respective barangays and are an integral component of inclusive governance across the city. The CWGs are also managing their chosen livelihood projects that afford them financial empowerment. Sustainable livelihood options allowed eight local cooperatives and 100 women and youth to gradually expand their businesses and contribute to their local economies.
Marking the 6th year commemoration of the 2017 Marawi Siege that displaced over 360,000 individuals, these accomplishments pave the way for community-driven solutions to all that have been affected by the conflict, contributing to the sustainable, inclusive peace and development in the Bangsamoro.
In Tawi-tawi, the project established the first molecular diagnostic laboratory in the island provinces to bridge the gaps in delivering primary health care services in the Bangsamoro.
“It took a long time for us and I thought it was impossible. With strong determination and passion and with pure intention to help our people, with the grace of Allah, we have this laboratory. We can show to other regions that even if we are in BARMM and we are Bangsamoro, we can do it,” shared Dr. Sangkula Laja, Provincial Health Officer of Tawi-Tawi.
“There is a stigma with HIV/AIDS. People are afraid and ashamed of seeking treatment for the cure of their disease. This time, we are here in Tawi-Tawi, we make it confidential and we can help them,” he continued.
With emerging needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the laboratory was designed to conduct COVID-19 testing and serve as a potential diagnostic platform for tuberculosis, HIV and other prevailing infectious diseases in the region. IOM together with the Datu Halun Sakilan Memorial Hospital and the Integrated Provincial Health Office of Tawi-Tawi are currently complying with accreditation requirements and are in the final stage of the process of proficiency testing.
This laboratory is meant to scale-up the region’s capacity for testing and improve access to these services to limit the spread of the diseases across Tawi-Tawi and islands nearby.
Reflecting on the gains in Lanao del Sur and Tawi-Tawi, IOM and KOICA share the vision of a more resilient Bangsamoro with more inclusive governance, increased access to psychosocial support and health services, and improved socioeconomic conditions.
“We could have not reached this far without your dedicated commitment throughout the process, which consistently allowed us to overcome many challenges in our endeavor,” said Tristan Burnet, IOM Philippines Chief of Mission. “I congratulate everyone for being integral part of these accomplishments. I truly hope that our achievements will continue to bring positive impact on your lives and further to the Bangsamoro communities,” she added.
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