Fighting to free besieged southern Philippine city "likely" to prolong



The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday the continuing clashes to retake the besieged southern Philippine city of Marawi "will likely prolong."

"The continuing clashes, and its damage on infrastructures in the city, will likely prolong the displacement of Marawi residents. Their needs are immense and growing by the day," the ICRC said in a recent report released on Thursday.

The fighting between government forces and militants allied with Islamic State in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province has entered its fourth week from May 23.

The ICRC said the affected residents who are likely to face prolonged displacement due to the impact of the fighting on their homes will need help to get back on their feet.

While evacuation efforts are ongoing, the ICRC said an estimated 300-500 people remain trapped in the city.

"Circumstances are dire for those who are left behind in Marawi City. Their lives remain in danger with the fighting zone, and it's impossible for humanitarian organizations to provide them with much needed assistance due to access and security issues," the ICRC said.

The aid agency said efforts to secure a humanitarian corridor should continue to ensure the safe evacuation of the trapped civilians.

"The rainy season has started, and thousands are still scattered in evacuation centers, while many families have sought shelter with relatives," the ICRC said.

ICRC has expressed concerns over reports of civilians who were killed or deliberately targeted, and those who are being held against their will.

"Civilians are not part of the fighting and should be protected," the ICRC said.

The ICRC said that the onset of raining season poses increased health risks to displaced residents, especially children and elderly staying in the evacuation centers.