FILIPINOS in Bahrain have been urged to extend a helping hand to families caught in a battle between government troops and pro-Islamic State militants for the control of a southern Philippines town.
More than 300,000 civilians have been displaced after militants from a faction known as the Maute group seized Marawi on May 23 and are resisting daily assaults by government forces using aircraft and artillery, and with help from allies, the US and Australia.
More than 350 militants have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Marawi, located in Lanao del Sur province in Mindanao, with hundreds of civilians still trapped in the conflict zone.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a martial law in the region as militants try to establish an Islamic State province in Mindanao.
“We issued an advisory to all Filipinos in Bahrain concerning donations and cash contributions for internally displaced citizens in Marawi,” said Philippines Embassy charge d’affaires Maria Cortes.
“Some individuals and groups in Bahrain approached the embassy, expressing interest in helping the people in Marawi.”
However, she pointed out that the Philippines government had not asked for donations from any foreign countries or organisations.
“We are expecting generous contributions from Filipinos in Bahrain,” said Ms Cortes.
People are urged to donate new clothes, mats, canned food, new toys, tents, blankets, toiletries and cooking utensils.
Meanwhile, Bahrain resident Rico Cosare said he was concerned for the safety of his family members living in IIigan City, 30km from Marawi.
“The biggest problem my family is facing are the curfew and checkpoints,” he told the GDN.
“Most of the displaced people from Marawi have moved into my city and we are scared that even the militants will do the same as they are pushed back by the military.”
The militant group, also known as IS Lanao, was formed in 2012 by brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute.
In 2015, the brothers, who studied in the Middle East, pledged alliance to the IS. However, both are now presumed dead.
The Duterte Friends From Bahrain (DFFB) has partnered with FilEx cargo to transport the donated items to the Philippines. “We have already sent 15 boxes and plan to send another consignment soon,” said DFFB president Randy Ayuste.
“All our shipments are sent to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Quezon city,” he said, adding that the group will spread awareness about the advisory in the community.
Cash donations can be sent to DSWD Foreign Donation, account number: 3124-0055-81, Swift code: TLBPPHMMXXXX, bank address: Land Bank of the Philippines, Batasan Branch, Constitution Hills, Quezon City.
Interested donors can also contact the embassy on 17721234.