UN-brokered health care truce aids children in 700 Philippines villages

UN-brokered health care truce aids children in 700 Philippines villages

Young family benefits from 'Days of Peace'
Children and their families in 700 remote villages in conflict-ravaged southern Philippines have received essential health care, many for the first time in their lives, through a historic truce arranged with Muslim rebels, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today.

In a campaign known as ‘Days of Peace,’ arranged between UNICEF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), fighting that has raged between the insurgents and the Government for decades was suspended for two weeks starting in mid-April so that health workers could provide immunizations, micronutrient supplementation, counselling and other basic care.

“Peace-building efforts will not succeed if we fail to deliver the basic services that families need,” said UNICEF's Representative in the Philippines, Dr. Nicholas Alipui, who led immunization teams deep into remote areas during the campaign.

Members of the popular Filipino rock band Bamboo also joined aid workers in the region to support the campaign and assist children in the villages, many of whom were found in desperate need. "We knew we were going to see children who needed help, but nothing could have prepared us for the reality of seeing such deprivation," lead singer Bamboo Manalac said.

Because of such great need, two more Days of Peace campaigns are now in the works for the region – one in July and another in October.

“The Days of Peace campaign is not just a series of special missions,” Dr. Alipui said. “We intend to help re-establish routine coverage of conflict areas.”