Save the Children Philippines has expressed concern over what it called the displacement of 76,383 children in Mindanao who suffer hunger, trauma and missing out on school
Save the Children Philippines is seeking protection and access to humanitarian support for displaced children in five provinces in Mindanao, reaching 76,383 due to heightened hostilities in the last two months.
The call is in line with its global campaign on “Stop the War on Children” that highlights the alarming situation of some 420-million children, nearly one fifth of children worldwide-living in conflict zone, up by 30-million children from 2016.
One in five children around the world live in conflict affected areas and suffer from a huge scale of direct and indirect impact of armed conflict, said the report “Stop the War on Children, launched by Save the Children globally in February.
Lawyer Albert Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines said children’s experience of conflict ranged from killing and maiming, to witnessing the destruction of their homes, schools, communities and the death of their loved ones.
“The harm done to children by the conflict is devastating,” said Muyot.
The number of displaced people from five conflict affected Mindanao provinces has reached 127,306 with 76,383 of them are children, according to reports received by Save the Children Philippines between February to March.
In Lanao Del Sur, the number of displaced people reached 8,911; Maguindanao with 35,235; and Sulu with 5,160.
Two years after the siege, there are still 66,000 people living in tents in Marawi, while there are 12,000 displaced Lumads or Indigenous People (7,200 of them are children) in Surigao del Sur due to heavy fighting for over a year now.
He called on parties to adhere to international humanitarian laws that protect children in times of war and armed conflict and guarantee access to food, health services and learning facilities.
Muyot raised concern on the report of the Department of Education in Maguindanao where some 4,960 learners cannot resume classes.
“Schools and health centers should be declared as Zones of Peace to allow children to continue their studies and get access to health care and nutrition,” said Muyot.
Reggie Aquino, humanitarian manager of Save the Children Philippines said the lives and safety of thousands of children in Mindanao are under constant threat due to recurring and protracted armed conflicts.
She also called on parties to stop recruiting boys and girls to become child soldiers.
“We call on parties to allow children and their families to have access to humanitarian support and protection such as food, shelter and learning facilities,” said Aquino.
She said hundreds of children are experiencing hunger and suffering from diseases due to the inaccessibility of healthcare, water and sanitation.
Save the Children Philippines continues to provide psychosocial support, learning materials and facilities to displaced children in affected provinces of Marawi, Surigao del Sur, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
These include establishing Child-Friendly Spaces, a safe space where children can play and learn and Temporary Learning Spaces where learners and teachers can resume classes.
Save the Children Philippines also provides back to school and hygiene kits for displaced children.
Also, the group holds psycho-social sessions to address trauma among children who witnessed acts of violence, or who suffered loss and experienced fear.