MILF signs action plan with UN to ensure protection of children affected by armed conflict
Cotabato, Southern Philippines, July 30 2009 – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed an action plan today with the United Nations to ensure that children affected by armed conflict are protected. Following consultative meetings with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict and UN children’s agency UNICEF, the MILF today committed to concrete and time-bound activities pertaining to unimpeded access by monitoring teams, prevention of recruitment, release and reintegration of any children under 18, and awareness and capacity building on child rights and child protection mechanisms within the MILF.
“This new development gives a clear message that with effective dialogue, it is possible for all parties to unite for the protection of children. Children are affected in multiple ways by the conflict in the Philippines. Whether they are displaced or used as couriers, cooks or soldiers, they should be protected from violence and return to their communities to live normal lives as children,” UNICEF Representative Vanessa Tobin said.
UNICEF is taking an active role in facilitating the release of children who may be found within the camps and in helping them adapt to civilian life.
To begin work on the action plan, the MILF will appoint a five-member panel tasked to take charge of the interaction with the UN and UNICEF. The MILF will also issue a new General Order to its base commanders and officers to reaffirm the MILF’s prohibition on employing children under 18 in any capacity, as well as the appropriate disciplinary actions that will be enforced in cases of violations.