31 July 2009 The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict today welcomed news that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Islamic rebel group fighting Government forces in the Philippines, has signed an action plan to prevent the continued recruitment of child soldiers.
Radhika Coomaraswamy said the signature indicates “that the protection of children is a priority beyond any political or other agenda. It serves as proof positive of the impact of the Security Council’s involvement on this crucial issue.
“However, compliance will require close follow-up in collaboration with the country team and the continuous support of the international community for the sake of these children.”
The action plan sets out concrete, time-bound steps to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to release any children found among MILF forces. It also requires that monitoring teams have unimpeded access to the children and that former child soldiers are reintegrated into civilian life.
MILF first agreed to the action plan, which conforms with the monitoring and reporting mechanism established as a result of a Security Council resolution from 2005 on the issue, in December last year after Ms. Coomaraswamy visited the Philippines.
The plan was developed in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN country team in the Philippines.
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