The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Friday it had green-lighted a U.S. $408 million finance package to help residents of Marawi recover from last year’s siege by militants and a five-month battle with government forces that ruined the southern city.
Stephen Groff, vice president of the Manila-based lending institution, said the assistance was meant to help in rehabilitation efforts, including rebuilding the lives of the city’s 200,000 residents, many of whom still live in temporary shelters more than a year after the siege by Islamic State-linked gunmen was broken.
A bulk of the funds, about $300 million, will finance local governance, construction of housing and shelters, livelihood projects and social services, the ADB said. The rest of the cash will go toward financing public works projects, including the reconstruction of roads, bridges and viaduct, the bank said.
“In my interaction with residents of Marawi, they expressed their desire for a better future for their children. We hope that through this new ADB loan and grants package, we can help transform Marawi into a thriving economic center in the southern Philippines, where people live in peace and prosperity,” Groff said.
The ADB’s Philippine director, Kelly Bird, said the bank would provide an additional $8 million in grants to rehabilitate water supply systems in 19 of the city’s worst-hit villages.
“With the government’s recovery plan in place, it’s essential that we quickly implement and roll out the programs. It’s important to focus on helping young Maranaos regain a sense of normalcy in a safe learning environment, which they are longing for,” Bird said, using the local name for Marawi residents.
The Marawi battle began on May 23, 2017 when the local Islamic State (IS) faction led by Isnilon Hapilon laid siege to the Philippines’ only predominantly Islamic city. More than 1,200 people, mostly militants, died in the vicious fighting.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported earlier that 69,000 people were still staying in evacuation centers and transitional sites because parts of Marawi remained uninhabitable.
An estimated 320,000 people have returned to Marawi since President Rodrigo Duterte declared the fighting over in October last year, the U.N. said. But this figure contrasted earlier census estimates that Marawi only had a population of slightly over 200,000.
Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato city, Philippines contributed to this report.