12/09/2008, 00.00
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Child soldiers and malnutrition, childhood denied in the Philippines

by Santosh Digal
A report by the Children’s Rehabilitation Center slams the army and rebel groups for recruiting minors. A United Nations envoy visits the country to start rehabilitation programmes. In Mindanao the Silsilah movement launches a special programme for malnourished children.

Manila (AsiaNews) – In the Philippines children are drafted into the national army, recruited by rebel groups, malnourished for lack of food and forced to flee their homes because of war, this according to the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) which just released a report at a conference in Manila on the presence of ‘child soldiers’ in the Filipino army and the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, is also visiting the country from 7 to 12 December on the invitation of the Filipino government.

She has personally travelled to the Asian country to evaluate the impact of war on minors, examining the connection between child soldiers and rebel groups that recruit them as well as possible initiatives to facilitate their protection and reintegration into civilian life.

For her part CRC Executive Director Esmeralda Macaspac slammed the government for the rising number of child soldiers.

In its study the CRC reported 948 documented cases of children victims of human rights violations, whilst an estimated two million children were affected by “forced displacement” as a result of the war.

Silsilah, a Mindanao-based group advocating Christian-Muslim dialogue, is concerned about child hunger and has launched a series of initiatives in favour of children suffering from this scourge.

Sadly the Philippines rank fifth in the list of hungry nations according to a recent study.

Among its various initiatives Silsilah runs a feeding programme that integrates children’s regular diet with highly nutritious meals that are provided twice a week for the most affected children.

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See also
Fragile hopes for dialogue between government and Muslim rebels in Mindanao
Child illiteracy and child labour are the continent's main social ills
"Silsilah": 30 Years of Christian-Muslim relations founded in spirituality
Mindanao: hundreds of Christians and Muslims together for interfaith dialogue
Mindanao, a collection of gifts for poor Muslims strengthens inter-religious dialogue


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