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EU to boost community resilience, children’s services in conflict-ridden BARMM locales

THE Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), European Union in the Philippines and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently launched the “Building Community Resilience and Delivery of Essential Services for Post-Conflict Recovery in Lanao del Sur/Marawi” project to strengthen community resilience, increase essential services coverage, as well as promote child-friendly family and community behaviors in 44 municipalities in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon.

The effort’s €4-million-plus budget, or about P245-million, will fund education, health, child-protection and disaster-risk reduction programs targeting 680,000 children, 200,000 parents and 120,000 internally displaced persons affected by the Marawi conflict. Project outcomes include maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, nutrition, water, and sanitation services; early-childhood education and basic education services; child protection and social-welfare systems; as well as child-friendly provincial and municipal planning and investment for children’s rights and reduced disaster risks.

“This project…supports BARMM’s regional and local authorities’ capacity to plan and deliver services: from health and sanitation, to education and social protection,” stated Ambassador Luc Véron of the EU. “It will contribute to the [basic human rights fulfillment of beneficiary-] populations…foremost the children.”

Véron said the EU is “very proud to have the opportunity to help fund this effort and partner up with…Bangsamoro authorities and…UNICEF, as part of our longstanding commitment to the wellbeing of children; and of course, to peace and development in BARMM.”

“Our journey to development and peace lives on in every Bangsamoro youth who carries our dreams into the future. The unrelenting support of our partners enables us to shape a Bangsamoro that nurtures the health and well-being of each…child,” Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim explained.

“Sustainable development, peace and security will not be achieved until every child has [his or her] rights fulfilled, respected and protected,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov added. “Children have a right to just be [themselves and play, as well as also] learn and spend time with family and friends. Safeguarding the next generation from the effects of armed conflict is our collective responsibility.”

The three-year project will involve collaboration among key agencies of the Bangsamoro government, including its ministries of health; social services and development; basic, higher and technical education; interior and local government; provincial governors; including development and humanitarian partners.

Special focus will be given to vulnerable populations—including pregnant and lactating women, children with disabilities, indigenous children, out-of-school youth, adolescents at-risk of being recruited into armed groups, internally displaced persons, and girls.

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With Bangsamoro Students

Part of his visit to launch the new partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Phils. in the Bangsamoro Region, Ambassador Luc Véron (second from left) had a chance to visit a school and clinic in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, as he learned first-hand about the concerns and aspirations of local learners, as well as health-care workers there. (See story below.) TWITTER: @EUINTHEPHILIPPINES