MILF close to removal from UN list of groups using child soldiers

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/18 May) — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced it was on its way to completing the UN-MILF action plan to get it delisted as a group that uses child combatants.

International human rights standards define a child soldier or combatant as an individual who is below 18 years old.

The announcement came in time for the launching Monday of the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign in Cotabato City by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the MILF.

The campaign is a series of public events to be run by the MILF, in coordination with the UNICEF for the next four months, in their base commands to signal their commitment to stop using children in combat.

Edward Guerra, chairman of the five-member panel of UN-MILF action plan said, sanctions will be meted to ground commanders who will violate the order to desist from using children in war.

“As to the implementation, we were almost halfway. We have the checklist and we will not go astray as long as we follow the roadmap,” Guerra said.

The MILF, along with other the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, was included in the UN list of armed groups using child soldiers.

Last year, the start of the program, UNICEF country representative Lotta Sylwander said the MILF was the only non-state armed group in the world attempting to be removed from the list of groups using children as combatants.

“What we want from the children in Mindanao is to have a happy, healthy and peaceful childhood. We don’t want children to be fighting, carrying guns or used as spies but rather learning and playing,” said Rebecca Pankhurst, UNICEF’s chief field officer.

Wilma Madato, a Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade member, called the action plan a way forward to the future of their children. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)

  • PlayfulChild

    This is a good way of confidence building for Peace Process. War mongers still hate BBL. UNICEF…pls help our peace process so that this good program continue.

  • UPnnGrd

    MILF recently allowed some of their soldiers to return back to civilian status…. but MILF still holds onto the child-soldiers. This is awful-bad…. MILF leadership has crazy logic. School has started in the Philippines — MILF should let the child-soldiers return to school.