UNICEF gives 500,000 dollars for children in war-torn Philippines
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Friday it would spend 500,000 dollars in the next three months to help children displaced by nearly two months of fighting in the southern Philippines.
The United Nations agency said the money will be used in ensuring the safety and unity of families displaced in the fighting between government troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the strife-torn region of Mindanao, reproted dpa.
"It is estimated that half a million people have been affected by the latest fighting in Mindanao and we know that more than half of these will be children," said Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF country representative.
Tobin said that a recent UN assessment mission in Mindanao noted the urgent need to focus "on creating a stable, secure environment for children as well as water and sanitation facilities in the evacuation centres."
Tobin added that the UN mission also found out that some of the children showed signs of distress as a result of prolonged fighting and displacement.
"These children may have witnessed killing or injuring of family members or may even have been attacked themselves," she said. "Even the distress of having to suddenly leave their homes and belongings can be very upsetting for young children."
Tobin said that UNICEF is urging combatants to uphold the rights of civilians, especially women and children.
UNICEF said that at least 10 children have been killed since the fighting erupted in August when MILF rebels seized villages and attacked towns.
The attacks occurred after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of a territory agreement that would have expanded the existing autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao. More than 200 people have been killed in the subsequent clashes.