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Removal of MILF from UN list of armed groups recruiting and using children a victory for the Philippines - UNICEF

MANILA, 7 October 2017 – The removal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from a UN list of armed groups recruiting and using children marks a stride and a victory toward realizing children’s rights in the Philippines.

The UN Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict is presented annually to the UN Security Council and contains information on the six grave violations against children and on the situation of children affected by armed conflict during the previous year. The report highlights trends and patterns of grave violations, progress made to protect children and further recommendations. The recently released 2016 report revealed that UN engagement has led to the delisting of two parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Philippines.

UN children’s agency UNICEF, which facilitated the work with the UN-MILF Action Plan to end recruitment and use of children, congratulates the MILF and highlights the work that still needs to be done to ensure that children affected by armed conflict enjoy their full rights.

The UN-MILF Action Plan was completed at the beginning of 2017 upon the fulfilment of a six point roadmap, resulting in the disengagement of 1,869 children from the ranks of the MILF. The disengagement of children will facilitate their access to appropriate support and services from government and development partners to enjoy all their rights to health, education and protection.

“The MILF’s commitment to protect and promote the rights of children in their communities continues today, even as they are delisted from the UN report. Fostering lasting peace for children involves continued vigilance by all concerned, including the government, civil society, elders, parents and children themselves to ensure they are not involved in or used in armed conflict,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander says.

The programme of support to disengaged/at-risk children and their families through UNICEF is being supported by the governments of Japan and Canada, among others. The MILF instituted safeguards through its command structure to regularly monitor and screen troops to prevent children from associating or re-associating. The United Nations will continue the monitoring of grave violations against children committed by all parties to conflict.

In the Philippines, children continue to be direct victims of grave violations in the context of the armed conflict, affecting their rights to life, survival, development, protection and education, among others.

Most common grave violations are recruitment and use of children, occupation of and attacks on schools, killing and maiming and detention for alleged association with armed groups. Thousands of children and families have been displaced in recent years by armed conflict, mainly in Mindanao. In 2017, the Marawi crisis displaced approximately 359,000 individuals, 205,000 of them being children.

UNICEF engages with government and parties to conflicts to prevent grave violations and guarantee adequate response to victims. UNICEF works with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, a key partner in peacebuilding. The implementation of the Action Plan aims to contribute towards the normalization track of the peace process between the government and the MILF.

 

 
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