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2007.05.14
* Fighting halted in remote areas of Philippines for ‘Days of Peace’ campaign * Shoot Date: 27 Apr 2007 It is hard to believe that this picturesque countryside in Southern Philippines has been part of an ongoing and often violent battle between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, known as MILF. But in a historical agreement between MILF and UNICEF, fighting was suspended in this and many other remote areas so that health workers could reach these often overlooked populations in a campaign called Days of Peace SOUNDBITE (English) DR. NICOLAS ALIPUI, UNICEF Philippines Representative: “What we have agreed with the both the MILF and government agencies is that we’ve agreed on the principle that children should be considered zones of peace. And programs for children should be prioritize and kept as neutral as possible,” Armed conflict has affected thousands of villages here, leaving these children without access to basic health services because of safety concerns. During the two-week “Days of Peace”, children and their families in 700 hard to reach villages were brought essential services such as immunizations, counselling and micronutrient supplementation. In what can only be considered a success, villagers and health care providers worked together; spreading awareness, gathering communities and offering encouragement. SOUNBITE (MAGUINDANAO) Muslima Manguda, Mother: “I am so happy the health workers are here, because we don’t have to travel far to help our children There are two more Days of Peace campaigns in the works for the Philippines. One in June and July and the other in October. One can only hope that the positivity and happy faces seen on the many villagers here is an indicator of things to come for so many others still unreached.
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