Dubai: The UAE Ambassador to the Philippines on Sunday joined Eid Al Adha celebrations of the Filipino community in Lanao del Sur, a province in Mindanao, south of Manila.

In his first visit to Lanao del Sur, Ambassador Hamad Saeed Al Zaabi led the distribution of beef in the temporary shelter of Brgy. Sagonsongan in Marawi, local media ABS-CBN reported.

Some 19 cows were slaughtered in Marawi for the Eid festivities, also known as the ‘Festival of Sacrifice’. Muslims mark the Eid Al Adha by sacrificing animals and distributing the meat to their family and those in need. In Sagonsongan, each family received at least a kilo of meat.

Marawi City was pulverised in the five-month armed conflict between government forces and pro-Daesh militants who gained control of the city in May 2017. The fierce battles displaced 350,000 or 98 per cent of the city’s population at the height of the conflict.

Two years on, some 50,000 residents are still unable to return to their homes. Rehabilitation plans have yet to gain momentum.

During his visit, Al Zaabi said the UAE embassy will launch projects in Marawi which includes construction of a child and youth centre, school rehabilitation, and an orphanage, the report said.

Al Zaabi also visited mosques in the war-torn area, including the Grand Mosque and Bato Mosque. He also served as the guest at the Eid celebration in the nearby town of Tamparan.

Roy Tamano, Adviser of the Maranao Community in the UAE from Marawi City, expressed his gratitude to the envoy’s gesture on the first day of Eid. “We are glad and grateful that the Ambassador of our second home (UAE) set foot on our beloved place. It is a manifestation of the UAE government’s generosity to reach out to their Muslim brethren,” Tamano told Gulf News.

“Especially after the Marawi siege, our homes and livelihood was shattered as a result of the ISIS terrorist attack on our city two years ago. We, the Maranao people, until now cannot grapple with the fact that our centre of livelihood, Islamic education and culture remain in ruins. Building it again seems an elusive dream that can take another generation to fulfill.”

But with UAE’s help, along with other international efforts, Tamano said he is optimistic that their city’s rehabilitation will finally gain some traction.

“It is a great feeling that having lived here for a decade and a half, our host country, the UAE, is launching an initiative to help rebuild our city through their good and humble ambassador. This noble act touches every heart and soul of the Maranao community in the UAE.”