UNICEF denounces decade of 170,000 violations against children in conflict

UNTV News   •   December 30, 2019   •   144

New York – More than 170,000 grave violations against children in conflict have been verified since the start of the decade, the United Nations’ children’s agency UNICEF said Monday.

The figure represents an average of 45 rights violations per day for the last 10 years.

UNICEF added that the number of countries experiencing conflict is the highest since the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989.

“Conflicts around the world are lasting longer, causing more bloodshed and claiming more young lives,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement.

“Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children. For every act of violence against children that creates headlines and cries of outrage, there are many more that go unreported,” she added.

In 2018, the UN agency verified more than 24,000 grave violations against children — more than two and a half times the figure in 2010 — including killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access, child recruitment and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Of the 24,000 cases, more than half were the killing or maiming of children, the vast majority from the continuous and widespread use of air strikes and explosive weapons such as landmines, mortars, improvised explosive devices, rocket attacks, cluster munitions and artillery shelling.

In the first half of 2019, more than 10,000 cases of children’s rights violations were documented, although UNICEF said the figure may be “much higher.”

The agency highlighted several risk situations throughout the year, and recalled that in May, the organization asked governments to repatriate children who were trapped in camps or detention centers in northeastern Syria, where there were about 28,000 foreign children from 60 countries, including 20,000 from Iraq.

It also stressed that in March, more than 150 people, including 85 children, were killed when an armed group attacked the village of Ogossagou in Mali’s Mopti region, while another attack in Sobanou-Kou killed another 24 children.

In September, UNICEF reported that 2 million children remained out of school in Yemen, including almost half a million who dropped out since the conflict intensified in March 2015.

In November, the organization revealed that three years of violence and instability in the northwest and southwest of Cameroon has left more than 855,000 children out of school and displaced 59,000 adolescents.

UNICEF urged “all warring parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water infrastructure.” EFE-EPA

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DOH, UNICEF urge LGUs to prioritize sanitation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 20, 2019

The Department of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urge local government units in the country to prioritize sanitation.

With this, the DOH launched the Philippine Approach to Sustainable Sanitation (PhATSS) policy in Baseco, Tondo, Manila in celebration of World Toilet Day (WTD) on November 19.

DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that using a toilet as well as the practice of handwashing with soap after using the toilet and before eating helps prevent the transmission of polio, among other diseases.

“DOH is reminding the public to practice good hygiene and urging the Local Government Units (LGUs) through the aid of DOH Centers for Health Development (CHDs) to intensify their Zero Open Defecation Program,” he said.

The PhATSS policy cites new sanitation targets for all barangays across the Philippines to achieve Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status by 2025. 

“Using the PhATSS policy, LGUs are guided on how to track the sanitation situation of each community and take supportive action to ensure that no one is left behind without access to a sanitary toilet,” according to the DOH.

The health department also said that there are currently only 11% of barangays (only 4625 out of a total 42,045) are certified ZOD, where people have abandoned the practice of open defecation.

UNICEF Deputy Representative Julia Rees said UNICEF provides technical assistance to DOH in scaling up sanitation programs.

“The effect of proper sanitation on health, nutrition, education, and security of Filipino children and women is paramount. It’s about time to look at addressing the sanitation needs of people in urban slums, in remote and geographically isolated areas, and in indigenous communities for a healthier, more progressive Philippines, and to ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.—AAC

Breastfeeding within an hour after birth most beneficial to newborns

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 2, 2019

In line with World Breastfeeding Week, the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterates the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding within one hour after birth.

“Early initiation of breastfeeding, within 1 hour of birth, protects the newborn from acquiring infections and reduces newborn mortality,” according to WHO.

The baby also gets colostrum from the first feed. Colostrum, according to WHO, is also called the baby’s ‘first vaccine’.

Colostrum is rich in nutrients and anti-bodies which reduce a baby’s risk to infections. An early contact with the mother also reduces the baby’s stress which allows them to have a steady heart rate.

Breastfed babies also…

  • have lower risk of developing asthma or allergies.
  • perform better on intelligence tests and have higher school attendance.
  • are less likely to be obese or underweight, however this will eventually depend on their lifestyle change as they grow older.

Breastfeeding mothers…

  • have lower risk in developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • have less difficulty in losing pregnancy weight.

“It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20,000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer,” according to WHO.

WHO adds that 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed in the first hour of their lives. This poses higher risk of death and disease for the baby.

“Yet each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons – all too often – are things we can change,” according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore. “Mothers simply don’t receive enough support to breastfeed within those crucial minutes after birth, even from medical personnel at health facilities.”

The World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1 to 7.—AAC

UNICEF turns over ‘school-in-a-bag’ packages to schools in Region 8

Maris Federez   •   May 27, 2019

UNICEF and partners SEAMEO INNOTECH and Smart Communications turn over school in a bag kits to 50 multigrade schools in Northern Samar and Samar divisions. This is part of UNICEF’s support to the Department of Education (DepEd) to improve the quality of education in multigrade schools in the Philippines. |© UNICEF Philippines/2019/Vitto Milanes

UNICEF on Saturday (May 25) has given out 50 portable and digital classroom packages for select schools in Samar and Northern Samar to help improve student learning in multi-grade classes.

In a press release, UNICEF explained that “multigrade classes are inclusive systems wherein children with different developmental levels, abilities and needs mix and learn together in one classroom under the guidance of one teacher.”

The UN’s children’s agency said that it has partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd), PLDT-Smart, and SEAMEO-Innotech in launching the program.

“Each school-in-a-bag package handed over today equips classes with a projector, one teacher laptop and tablet in one, five student tablets, DVD player, USB memory drive, and pocket wifi with starter load,” the statement added.

It said that around 2,500 disadvantaged school children will benefit from the project.

“Today’s turnover of school-in-a-bag packages aims to bring 21st-century learning to all children, particularly for learners from isolated and indigenous poor communities. This is part of our long-standing commitment that every Filipino child realizes their right to quality education,” UNICEF Representative a.i. Julia Rees said in the agency’s statement sent to media.

She added that the agency looks forward “to replicating the project in other parts of the country where it is needed most.”

As the project’s technology partner, PLDT-Smart developed a learning app in Waray and Ibakon languages, and packaged customized, relevant e-learning resources for tablets and laptops.

The development of this app is based on the review and feedback from multigrade teachers and implementers who completed the training on Contextualization of Multigrade Teach-Learn Material in Region 8 in February 2018.

As an implementing partner, SEAMEO-Innotech, on the other hand, has been helping improve access to quality learning by coordinating and organizing activities with the DepEd.

UNICEF’s statement added that the lack of schools, teacher absenteeism, run-down facilities and the lack of inclusive learning set-up for children from indigenous communities or for children with disability are some of the reasons why about 2.8 million school-aged Filipino children are not in school or enrolled in alternative learning options.

Samar and Northern Samar are among UNICEF’s geographical priority areas where some of the most disadvantaged children are. Priority areas also include Western Samar, Zamboanga del Norte, and the five provinces in BARMM, namely, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. /mbmf

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