Peace Accord Brings Potential for Development in Southern Philippines
Philippines - The International Organization for Migration has outlined its proposed inputs into the recovery effort in the conflict-wracked Mindanao region of the Southern Philippines. At a high-level conference in the capital Manila yesterday, IOM’s Chief of Mission Marco Boasso spoke of his gratitude for the trust that Government and other players have placed in the Organization on the “long walk to peace”.
Hostilities in central and western Mindanao region have been a major obstacle to development for more than 40 years. It has the lowest development indicators and highest poverty rates in the Philippines, comparable to Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Yemen.
The conflict has cost an estimated 120,000 lives with millions affected by multiple displacements, loss of family members and destruction of property. However, in March 2014, the signing of an accord between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led to hopes of peace and prosperity for the troubled region.
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (as the planned autonomous region is to be known) is viewed as the most positive step towards resolution of the conflict, though there are still many precarious steps before a lasting peace can be reached.
Yesterday’s forum was convened to discuss the Community Revitalization Initiative for Bangsamoro (CRIB) and was attended by representatives from over 30 countries and international agencies as well as members of the private sector and various national bodies.
The initiative, which outlines possible peace-building activities in Mindanao, supports five key sectors: socio-economic integration and reintegration, health and psychosocial support, transitional justice, and humanitarian assistance. IOM is a key actor in all these areas due to the Organization’s global experience in post-conflict countries, its four-decade presence in the Philippines, and its ability to respond to the identified priority needs of the Bangsamoro Community.
The CRIB is a reflection of the ongoing partnerships IOM has been developing with the Government of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, the Bangsamoro Transmission Commission and the Bangsamoro Development Agency. With these agencies, the Government of the Philippines, and the UN Country Team, IOM hopes to support the local authorities to promote peace and stabilization, supporting IDPs, returnees, and ex-combatants integrate into their communities, and thus contribute to socio-economic progress.