“Days of Peace” for children in Mindanao, Philippines
Shariff Kabunsuan, Philippines, 14 April 2007. In what he described as a “historic event,” the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, and UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Nicholas Alipui, today signed a communiqué to jointly deliver basic services to armed conflict-affected communities of Southern Philippines during designated “Days of Peace.” The MILF pledged to “provide access and guarantee security” for the service delivery teams.
Commencing on 16 April, the Days of Peace campaign will provide immunisation, micronutrient supplementation, de-worming and breastfeeding counselling in some 500 communities formerly inaccessible due to armed conflict.
Two more rounds of Days of Peace will take place in June/July and October this year, when additional basic services will be provided, such as birth registration, malaria control, and educational supplies, among others.
Dr. Abbas Candao, Executive Director of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) – the MILF agency mandated to carry out humanitarian, rehabilitation and development programmes in conflict-affected areas – committed to “support the programme with all [our] resources.”
According to UNICEF, this is the first time that MILF mobilised its entire organization to work with UNICEF to bring basic social services to the most remote and disadvantaged communities. UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Alipui, quoted Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of Children’s Defense Fund, as saying, “if we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.” “For us, all children everywhere have the same rights all the time. As we stand up for children, we should be guided by this common ground” Alipui said.
Days of Peace will reach:
Also involved in the campaign are the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Department of Health, International Monitoring Team, Joint Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities, local government units, and civil society organisations.
“We look forward with great anticipation to the incremental service that this rolling campaign will bring as we attempt to restore full basic social services and infrastructure in conflict-affected areas,” Alipui said.
Days of Peace “will undoubtedly contribute to the search for genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao,” remarked MILF Chairman Ebrahim. “We would like to see the campaign implemented as a component and tied up to the ongoing peace process between the MILF and Government of the Republic of the Philippines,” Ebrahim added. “We would like our people to accept the program as among the fruits of the ongoing peace process.” Chairman Ebrahim concluded, “genuine peace is not only the silencing of the gun but most importantly the absence of all forms of injustices, oppression and exploitation at the same time the upholding of mutual respect to each and everyone’s honor, dignity and belief.”