MARAWI, Philippines — At a crowded center for refugees fleeing the fighting that has ravaged this city, Merlinda Obedencio never lets her most valuable possession out of sight: a blue cellphone.
It is the only link she has to her husband and three of their six children being held by Islamic State-linked extremists.
Obedencio’s husband, Raul, and their children were captured by the local Maute extremist group during a siege that started May 23 and has left almost 600 dead.
Almost 400,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Marawi, a city on the southern island of Mindanao, according to the Philippine military. And like Obedencio, most face an uncertain future in a region turned upside down by extremist violence.