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UNICEF releases US $500,000 to assist children affected by conflict in Mindanao, Philippines

Manila, 3rd October 2008: UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, announced today that it is spending US$ 500,000 over the next three months to assist the children of central Mindanao who have been affected by the latest outbreak fighting there.

Working closely with government agencies and NGOs, the money will be spent ensuring the safety and unity of displaced families, creating child-safe spaces in the evacuation centres and also ensuring access to clean water and sanitation facilities. 

Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF country representative, said:  “It is estimated that half a million people have been affected by the latest fighting in Mindanao, and we know that more than half of these will be children. After a recent UN assessment mission, we have determined a need to urgently focus on creating a stable, secure environment for children as well as the water and sanitation facilities in the evacuation centres. ”

The assessment mission identified that a number of parents noted signs of distress among their young children as a result of prolonged warfare and displacement, so UNICEF will be focusing on creating child friendly spaces and mobilizing community support for children.

“These children may have witnessed killing or injuring of family members or may even have been attacked themselves.  Even the distress of having to suddenly leave their homes and belongings can be very upsetting for young children. By creating a space where children feel safe, and by establishing normal routines like schooling and play activities, UNICEF is helping these children to recover’’, Tobin said.

The UN assessment mission also found that due to poor access to clean water, and insufficient latrines and washing areas, there had been an increased incidence of diarrhea, which can be fatal for young children. The situation is compounded by the fact that ARMM is already highly disadvantaged with only 33% of families having access to safe, clean water.

UNICEF will be providing safe water in the evacuation centres, as well as providing latrines and bath cubicles, especially for girls and women. Children will be taught good hygiene practice too, so the benefits of these efforts will be more long-lasting.

With the end of Ramadhan, there is a fear amongst some communities that fighting will again escalate.

“UNICEF strongly urges all parties in the conflict to take utmost care to uphold the rights of civilians especially women and children, including allowing their safe passage out of conflict zones. At least ten children have already died in the latest spate of fighting, and that is ten too many. We also urge all parties to recognize that regardless of their role in the conflict, children should be treated as victims and not perpetrators, and their rights to development and protection upheld.”

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About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF has been operating in the Philippines for 60 years working for health and education of children and protection of their rights.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information please contact:
Angela Travis, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: ++632 901-0177, ++632 917.867.8366, atravis@unicef.org
Marge Francia, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: ++632 9010173, ++632 917.858.9447, mfrancia@unicef.org


 

 

 

 

 

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