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The Philippines: Open Doors supports 130 Christians displaced by Islamist siege

16 June 2017

The Philippines: Open Doors supports 130 Christians displaced by Islamist siege One of six boxes of clothes, bags, shoes and toiletries sent by Open Doors

It has been three weeks since the so-called Islamic State (IS) infiltrated the city of Marawi, killing more than a hundred, taking hostages (including Christians) and displacing 200,000 residents.

To support Christian families fleeing the militants, through local partners Open Doors has been providing financial help and aid to 27 displaced families - around 130 people in total.

"[Aid] packages have arrived, and we praise God that our contacts and the families we minister to are safe," writes an Open Doors worker.

"The immediate needs are underwear and sanitary napkins," says Khalil*, another Open Doors worker. "Medicines are also needed now, as with the cramped spaces in the evacuation centre comes contagious diseases. Sanitation of the place, as expected, is not good. There are relief goods distributed by the government, but as to whether it is enough for each family, that is uncertain."

As well as supporting the families with their immediate needs, Open Doors partners are considering how best to support them long-term. "Our partners are looking forward to rehabilitation - they are preparing for the housing and livelihood," says Khalil. "(As for the families), not all are staying in the evacuation centre, many went to stay with their families living in nearby provinces."

On Monday, the Philippines celebrated its Independence Day. "It was a bittersweet celebration because of the conflict in Marawi - the families it has displaced, the many lives it has already claimed," says our colleague. "Flags were set at half-mast to honour the slain."

Held hostage

At present, around 500-1,000 civilians still trapped or held hostage in the city. A priest being held hostage by Islamist militants appeared in a video, pleading for the President to 'consider' hostages' lives and stop bombing the city.

A spokesman for the Philippines army dismissed the video, which was released and circulated via social media, as 'propaganda'.

Abducted Fr. Teresito Suganob says in the video he is one of around 200 people being held hostage by the Islamists who stormed the city, setting fire to buildings including a cathedral and Christian college. The militants later killed nine Christians at a checkpoint; local residents identified them as Christians and said they had been pulled from a truck, had their hands bound and then their bodies riddled with bullets and left in a field.

Reports have emerged that Christians were being specifically targeted, forced to recite Muslim prayers and used as human shields - yet there have also been stories of acts of solidarity from Muslims towards Christians, with Muslims reportedly giving Christians hijabs, hiding them in their homes and teaching them Muslim prayers.

Source: Open Doors; World Watch Monitor

Please pray:

  • That all those displaced by the violence would be protected from disease and receive the aid they need
  • For those still held hostage, that they would be protected, well treated and released soon
  • That there would be peace in Marawi, and that violent Islamist ideology would not spread in the Philippines.