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Officials ask for toy donations as therapy for Marawi children

In this June 8, 2017 photo, children play on a paper they shaped as a military tank at an evacuation center at the provincial government headquarters in Marawi city, southern Philippines. Trapped Filipinos are trickling out of Marawi city with harrowing tales of survival more than two weeks after Islamic militants plunged the southern Philippine city into chaos with an unprecedented attack. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
LANAO DEL SUR — Officials are soliciting old toys for conflict-stricken children from Marawi City as “trauma treatment.”
A big number of the more than 200,000 evacuees from the troubled Marawi City are children.
“We are knocking on the hearts of parents and children in peaceful regions to donate used toys, but not toy guns or anything of sort,”  physician Kadil Sinolinding, Jr., health secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Monday.
ARMM Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, concurrent regional social welfare secretary of the autonomous region, said on Monday that trauma therapists have recommended the distribution of toys to the children now cramped in evacuation sites and in houses of relatives in safe areas.
“There are non-government organizations and peace advocacy groups that can help us out on this. Any help shall be highly appreciated,” said Lucman, himself a Maranaw from Bayang town in Lanao del Sur.
Marawi City is the capital of Lanao del Sur which has 39 towns divided into two congressional districts.
The Department of Public Works and Highways-ARMM is now constructing additional health and sanitation facilities in evacuation sites where there are thousands of internally-displaced people from different barangays in Marawi City.
The secretary of DPWH-ARMM, Engr. Don Loong, and sanitation engineers inspected over the weekend the evacuation sites in Lanao del Sur and planned on-site the construction of more toilets and water supply facilities that evacuees need.
Among those immediately provided with health and sanitation interventions were evacuees in relief sites in Lanao del Sur that are not too distant from Marawi City.
Loong said the District Engineering Office in the first congressional district of Lanao del Sur, which also covers Marawi City, will help oversee their sanitation initiatives in relief sites.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said last week they still have about P50 million for relief and rehabilitation efforts for internally displaced people from Marawi City.
There is no clear timeline yet on when will the strife in Marawi City, raging since May 23, end.
Hataman said the DPWH-ARMM will help Sinolinding and his subordinates implement the sanitation measures meant to avert the spread of communicable diseases in evacuation sites.
Sinolinding said lack of potable water and improper disposal of human wastes are the health issues besetting evacuation centers.
“We are very thankful to the ARMM public works department for helping address these problems,” Sinolinding said.
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