Dusty teddy bear lies in war-ruined Philippine city

2017-06-23 22:05
A teddy bear lies outside an abandoned house near the front line in Marawi. (Ayee Macaraig, AFP)

A teddy bear lies outside an abandoned house near the front line in Marawi. (Ayee Macaraig, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Marawi - A dusty teddy bear strewn on the floor, family photos on a wall and dried underwear on a clothesline are among the few remnants of life in deserted homes of a Philippine city left in ruins by war.

A dog eats the carcass of a cat on a street littered with rubbish where soldiers patrol, while military planes and helicopters continue the relentless bombing of Islamist militants hidden in other homes a kilometre away.

Nearly all of the 200 000 residents of Marawi have fled since hundreds of gunmen linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group went on a rampage on May 23, triggering a conflict that has destroyed entire districts and left the others vulnerable to looting.

Marawi has long been the Islamic cultural and commercial capital of the mainly Catholic Philippines, with a lake and cool mountain air making it a popular summer retreat, but parts now resemble the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo.

Its residents are left in torment in nearby evacuation centres or friends' homes, waiting for the fighting to end and find out what has become of their homes.

"Maybe there is nothing left. Our home may have been reduced to ashes. We heard our village was bombed and our house is just made of wood and bamboo," Rasmia Abdullah, 24, told AFP with watering eyes in a crowded gym close to Marawi.

"It's very painful because we were already rebuilding our house after a fire when the war broke out. Now we really have nothing."

The war has also ended all types of business in Marawi - a city renowned for its traders - and locals fear looting has stripped well-off homes that were known to keep vaults of cash, jewellery and heirlooms.

But the impact is hardest on poor residents such as Abdullah, a mother-of-three and a banana and rice cake vendor, who fled Marawi with only the clothes on her back and leaving her wares to rot.

"If I could only save the machine I used to make rice cakes, I would do that to make a living. It pains me that the city I grew up in, all I worked for was gone and I don't know how to bring it back," she said.

Massive rehabilitation 

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern Philippines immediately after the militants began their rampage in Marawi, which he said was part of an effort to establish a local ISIS caliphate.

Duterte has deployed the full force of his military to end the uprising, most notably with a US-backed bombing campaign that has flattened entire neighbourhoods.

However, the militants still hold three of the city's nine districts, according to the government, using hostages as human shields while sheltering in bomb-proof basements and countering with brutal urban warfare.

Sixty-seven soldiers and police have been killed, according to the military, which estimates nearly 300 militants have died.

As the fighting continues with no signs of a quick resolution, the government and aid workers are starting to plan for the rehabilitation of the city on a scale as massive as for the most powerful typhoons that regularly smash the Philippines.

Duterte has promised to set aside 20 billion pesos ($397 million) for the rehabilitation of Marawi, a process the provincial government expects to take 10 years.

Locals authorities are planning to build tent cities over the next six months.

Trauma compounded

In the schools and gymnasiums being used as evacuation centres, residents' trauma is compounded by not knowing what has happened to their homes.

Vegetable farmer Amerodin Esmayatin, 35, said his cousins had told him that his house was first looted and later on bombed.

"We were already fleeing for our lives and yet people still took the little we had," Esmayatin told AFP in a displacement camp where he and his family of five were staying.

"I can't sleep at night thinking about what happened."

Abdullah said she was haunted by thoughts of what she would see when she finally did return home.

"I am steeling myself for the time I am able to come back, but I imagine myself crying," she said.

Read more on:    isis  |  rodrigo duterte  |  philippines

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

What age should puppies stop chewing shoes?

Chewing is perfectly natural behaviour in puppies and even adult dogs, but dog owners can solve the problem with calm, and these straightforward tips.

 
 

Paws

French Bulldog helps kids with facial differences
Weird things dogs do
Makeover saves dog’s life
For the love of Corgis!
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.