From the Relief Web (Apr 3): Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 3 | April 2017
• Over 1,800 children were formally disengaged from the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade in a landmark agreement between the armed groups and the United Nations in the Philippines.
• The Community of Practice on Community Engagement puts the Rapid Information Communication Accountability Assessment (RICAA) tool into practice in Antequerra, Bohol.
• Almost a year after the Grand Bargain pledge at the World Humanitarian Summit, an Asia-Pacific dialogue reviews progress made and challenges of the commitments.
# of displaced persons 9,585
# of damaged or destroyed houses 10,873
(Source: DSWD as of 25 March)
Flooding in Mindanao and Visayas
# of displaced persons 29,489 (Source: DSWD as of 26 March)
# of IDPs in transitional sites 10,234
(Source: Zamboanga City Social Welfare and Development Office as of 13 March)
1,800 children formally disengaged from non-state armed group
"As children, you should be in school holding pens, not guns.” Wilma Madato, a training officer for the Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) and member of the UN-MILF Action Plan Five-Person Panel, delivered a firm message to 36 children, along with their families and soldiers of the Field Guard base command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao province. She was speaking at one of dozens of ceremonies that took place in February and March to formally disengage over 1,800 children from association with the MILF’s military arm, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and its counterpart BIWAB.
Disengagement efforts in the Philippines
The United Nations, led by UNICEF’s country office in the Philippines, supported this process, which began with the UN-MILF Action Plan to address the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in Mindanao. The 2009 action plan, extended in 2013, commits the MILF to end the recruitment and use of children within their ranks. These ceremonies signify the culmination of years of initiatives to raise awareness and sensitize MILF members from the highest levels to front-line soldiers and families on the implications and impact on children who are recruited and used by their military arm.
At the field level in Mindanao and the national level in Manila, the UN Security Councilmandated country team for monitoring and reporting grave violations of children’s rights in situations of armed conflict has been central to the disengagement process. OCHA actively participates in this multi-lateral team chaired by UNICEF, which tracks incidents involving children and works with all parties involved to halt these grave violations. Additionally, OCHA advocates their protection through various media and means, including meetings with stakeholders and partners.
Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Philippines Representative, says, “Children affected by armed conflict are among the most vulnerable in the world. Right here in the Philippines, children are affected by armed conflict in different ways. They can be recruited as soldiers and engaged in direct combat or simply be helpers at the camp. In any case, there are seriously harmful consequences threatening their life and well-being.”