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Days of Peace

"War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing," sang Edwin Starr, protesting protesting the Vietnam War in the 60's. One might say the same thing about the decades-long conflict in Mindanao, which has brought little political change, but has instead wrought generations of misery, which children as the main victims.

We just got the word from local UNICEF officials that they've launched "Days of Peace in Mindanao," a program for delivering basic services for children in conflict-affected communities. Signed up as the musical ambassadors for the campaign are Gary Valenciano and the band Bamboo.

Launched last Monday, April 16, the campaign has these music stars rubbing shoulders with UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Fund) officials, Health Secretary Francisco Ducque III, Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and Dr. Abbas Candao, chairman of the Bangsamoro Development Agency.

The two artists lent their star power to the campaign and launch event last April 16 at a press conference held at the Discovery Suites on ADB Avenue in Mandaluyong. Valenciano is incidentally the UNICEF National Ambassador in the Philippines.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that Bamboo will be going to Mindanao on Aoril 23 and 24 to observe the program being implemented.

The Associated Press describes the campaign as a "landmark deal" between UNICEF and Muslim rebels. Al Jah Murad, chairman of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a 2003 cease-fire with the government to pave the way for Malaysian-brokered peace talks, is quoted by the wire service as saying that the health campaign should be seen "as a component (of) and tied up to the ongoing peace process."

From the UNICEF statement:
DAYS OF PEACE is a campaign in which all parties in the ongoing conflict will work together to ensure that vital basic services for children reach communities most in need.

The campaign will expand Department of Health "Garantisadong Pambata" (guaranteed for children) outreach into areas normally cut off from government assistance due to security problems. Services such as immunization, de-worming, vitamin A supplementation, breastfeeding counseling and birth registration will be delivered to some 500 barangays starting on April 16.

Decades of armed conflict in Mindanao have taken a heavy toll - displacing roughly 50,000 - half of whom are children. The economic cost of this conflict has been pegged at US$2.8B to $US5.5B.

In many armed conflict areas, basic services are either deficient or absent altogether. DAYS OF PEACE is conceived as an effort to take advantage of the current ceasefire to urgently deliver basic services which children have been deprived of.

2007, Bamboo Unofficial Site is Created by: Iris_France