Children and Armed Conflict

The Philippines has a long history of conflict—going way back to the 16th century with the Spanish colonization—and the way this affects children is devastating, especially in Mindanao. The Mindanao Development Plan states that one of the roots of this conflict was “historical injustice caused by colonization.” Let’s look at how and why Mindanao had to self-assess the damage this conflict was doing, especially to children’s welfare, in the first place.

In 2005, the UN Security Council began a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) to monitor, document, and report on heinous abuses of the rights of children in situations of armed conflict. This focused on collecting information on what has been termed ‘the six grave violations’ committed against children during armed conflict. These violations include:

  1. Killing or maiming of children

  2. Recruitment or use of child soldiers

  3. Rape and other forms of sexual violence against children

  4. Abduction of children

  5. Attacks against schools or hospitals

  6. Denial of humanitarian access to children

This report uncovered some horrible truths about what is happening in these areas — and it is truly shocking. For example, figures showed that just in December 2012, there were 74 verified incidents of killing and maiming involving 116 children. Forty children were killed and 76 injured. This included targeted shooting, crossfire, airstrikes, and much more.

These kinds of figures are everywhere in all of the six grave violations of children’s rights. Luckily, this MRM was able to grab everyone’s attention and support to help create the Mindanao 2020: Peace and Development Framework Plan (2011-2030). They set out 6 actions to achieve peace and security, including the reconstruction of conflict areas and a fair, responsive justice system.

This just goes to show that children’s welfare across the world is at serious risk. It took a large charity organization to come in and assess the situation for there to be an actual solution put into place.

But even smaller non-profit organizations can make a difference. Brighter Communities cannot just overlook these children, as it is our mission to lift children up and inspire them to create innovative solutions to the world’s problems through tech for good. We provide as much knowledge as we can to help these children fight back — to fight for their right to a good, sustainable life.

We need more MRM systems in place all over the Philippines and in other third world countries. And we need to work together to educate, protect, and empower our children if we want to step towards a more peaceful world for the new generation.

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