United Nations intensifies effort to reintegrate children into their communities and provide them with education and health care

Published by rudy Date posted on May 2, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Children have rights and privileges guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every support must be extended to ensure their growth in an environment in which their rights and welfare are respected.

The United Nations (UN) is intensifying its efforts to remove children from combat in conflict-affected areas in the Philippines and to reintegrate them into their communities and provide them with education and health care. Cooperation has reportedly been extended by rebels to the UN effort. Hundreds of combatants younger than 18 have been identified and registered.

The point is to take them away from combat areas and put them in schools, said Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, who recently visited the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to meet with Filipino officials. He visited the ARMM to also assess the status of a memorandum signed between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2009. Under the agreement, UNICEF provided funds for the implementation of interventions that would advance children’s welfare in time of peace and spare them from any consequences in armed conflict.

The UN Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict launched in 2010 the “Zero under 18” campaign to achieve universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict by 2012. Universal ratification will establish a moral consensus that no child should take part in hostilities or be involuntarily recruited and that former child soldiers should be assisted by their governments after a life of violence and distress.

Protecting children in armed conflicts remains a moral call. The continuing efforts of the Philippine government and the United Nations in removing them from combat will help ensure that Filipino children in conflicts, after their reintegration, will have access to education, food, and shelter, and that they will live and grow in a just and peaceful environment in which they can flourish and contribute to their communities. –Manila Bulletin

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