Lack of food, wa­ter and medicine af­fects el­derly and sick, says Red Cross

New Straits Times - - World - OUR hun­gry chick­ens clawed at rub­bish in a de­serted street that smelt of corpses as mil­i­tary heli­copters skimmed the rooftops fir­ing rock­ets while the Philip­pines’ most beau­ti­ful Mus­lim city burned. Marawi, a lakeshore city of minarets that is the cen­tre

he said. The of­fi­cial death toll is 19 civil­ians, 17 sol­diers, three police and 65 mil­i­tants.

It is al­most cer­tain to rise. A police com­mando said he sus­pected the still off-lim­its pub­lic mar­ket was full of dead bod­ies.

“The area smells bad,” said com­mando Hamid Bal­imbin­gan.

“We can’t pen­e­trate the area and that’s why we’re us­ing he­li­copter gun­ships on them (gun­men).”

Those trapped are in danger of be­ing hit by rock­ets or get­ting caught in the cross­fire of the bat­tles, while a lack of elec­tric­ity, wa­ter, food and med­i­cal care could be just as deadly, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“It re­ally is a ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion,” ICRC’s deputy head of the Philip­pine del­e­ga­tion, Martin Thal­mann, said here.

“Sick peo­ple have al­ready died be­cause they couldn’t get out. There are el­derly in there.”

The mil­i­tary cam­paign in­volves danger­ous house-to-house com­bat with the gun­men us­ing sniper struc­tural dam­age from flood in­un­da­tion and land­slides.

Wa­ter Sup­ply Min­is­ter Rauf Ha­keem said 40 per cent of those af­fected did not have ac­cess to piped drink­ing wa­ter, and there was an ur­gent need to clean con­tam­i­nated wells.

The mil­i­tary has de­ployed more troops to the thou­sands in­volved in dis­tribut­ing food and other es­sen­tials to flood vic­tims in the dis­tricts of Ka­lu­tara, Rat­na­pura, Galle and Matara.

The dis­as­ter cen­tre said weath- fire to deadly ef­fect from key struc­tures and build­ings.

Heli­copters also fly reg­u­larly over the ar­eas be­ing held by the mil­i­tants and fire rock­ets, even with civil­ians known to be in nearby build­ings.

Since the fight­ing be­gan, neigh­bour­ing towns and cities have been swamped with flee­ing Marawi res­i­dents.

At mul­ti­ple check­points out­side of the city, there were long lines while se­cu­rity forces cross- er was ex­pected to im­prove yes­ter­day.

Sri Lanka has sought in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance, with In­dia send­ing two naval ships laden with sup­plies over the week­end.

A third ship was ex­pected later yes­ter­day, of­fi­cials said.

The United Na­tions said it would do­nate wa­ter con­tain­ers, wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion tablets and tar­pau­lins while the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion will sup­port med­i­cal teams in af­fected ar­eas. checked res­i­dents’ faces against the mug shots of known ter­ror sus­pects printed on large posters.

“We are an­gry at them,” mother-of-six Su­nay Macudin, 28, said, re­fer­ring to the mil­i­tants as she and her chil­dren and her el­derly grand­mother sat on the floor of a gym­na­sium-turnede­mer­gency shel­ter in nearby Pan­tar town.

“This would not have hap­pened to us if the gun­men had not come to our vil­lage.”

An­other Mus­lim res­i­dent ex­pressed bewil­der­ment at the re­ported goals of the gun­men: im­pos­ing a bru­tal form of rule such as that seen by IS in Iraq and Syria, with any­one not shar­ing their ide­ol­ogy re­garded as the en­emy.

In the lat­est devel­op­ment on the city-turned-bat­tle­field here, authorities yes­ter­day warned mil­i­tants to sur­ren­der or die.

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