More than 200,000 residents of Marawi City and other communities on the Philippines' southern Mindanao Island have fled for safer areas since armed conflict erupted May 23. Fighting between Philippines government forces and a local militant group is not expected to end anytime soon.
Several churches and schools are among casualties of the fighting. The militants, who have declared their allegiance to ISIS, attacked and burned Dansalan College, a 50-year-old school of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and a Global Ministries (UCC/Disciples) partner. The college welcomes people of all faiths and offers a range of services to its predominantly Muslim community. Bishops of the UCCP have issued a call for prayers and sobriety for such a time as this.
In response to the current crisis, UCC Disaster Ministries has contributed a $3,000 solidarity grant to help with food and shelter for the college's 92 staff and their families, who have been evacuated from Marawi City, and is in close contact with the UCC Philippines and the ecumenical ACT Alliance regarding developments and needs.
The ACT Alliance and its members and partners in the Philippines are putting together a $664,000 program of assistance to address the needs of more than 20,000 of the internally displaced persons, many of whom are staying with relatives or other host families and some of whom are in makeshift shelters.
Particular attention will be given to persons with specific needs, such as female-headed households, women and widows, children, elderly people living with disabilities, and indigenous people.
Program elements are to include food, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, cash and livelihoods assistance along with community-based psychological support.
Persons wishing to contribute to this effort may do so through the UCC’s International Emergency Relief Fund.