COMMISSION 9: Children’s Rights Against Child Labor, Sexual Abuse & Other Forms of Exploitation
When soldiers came, schools closed down. In the many conflict-hit countries worldwide, school children are most affected; they lose their chance for education, their homes, even their lives.
In two villages in Surigao del Sur province in southern Philippines, school children did not even get a chance to come on their first day of school this June; the schools suspended their opening after villagers evacuated their homes. Some 800 residents from the villages of Mahaba and Buhisan began leaving their homes from June 20 to 26 to escape military atrocities in the area.
Villagers complained that soldiers of the army’s 29th Infantry Battalion fired at four people including a 14-year-old boy. A farmer, who was one of the three adults fired upon by soldiers, remains missing to date. Classes at the Mahaba Elementary School, San Roque Primary School, Magkahunao Community School and Luknodon Community School have been suspended.
In Agusan del Sur, teachers of the B’laan Literacy School and Learning Center (BLSLC) were harassed by soldiers of the 73rd infantry battalion. The BLSLC is an alternative school for indigenous people. Soldiers began harassing teachers and staff of the BLSLC since 2010, demanding to get the records of the students and personal information of the teachers. Even children on their way to school were accosted by soldiers who forced them to show their notebooks. Parents reported that soldiers told them not to support the school because the teachers were promoting anti-government propaganda.
No place for a school child
The UNICEF said that in 2006, there were 93 million school-age children world-wide that were out of school; two-thirds or nearly 60 million of these were in 33 conflict-affected countries and territories.
In the village of Beoua, Cote d’Ivoire in Africa, soldiers occupied school buildings and teachers’ homes, suspending classes this June.
In Libya, the Save the Children reported that almost all of the country’s schools have closed, 100 days after NATO began its military attacks on March 31. As a result, two million children are being deprived of their education. In Benghazi, the 43 schools gave shelter to those who have fled the fighting.
In Iraq, the US War on Terror had displaced more than five million people, many of whom live in refugee camps where there are no schools.
A future for children
The concern of children in conflict will be among the issues to be tackled in the fourth assembly of the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) to be held in the Philippines in July. With the theme “Build a bright future,” the conference will gather hundreds of internationals from 33 countries.
The ILPS will hold 18 workshops for its areas of concerns, one of which is “The Effect of Imperialist Globalization and Wars of Aggression on Children of the Working Class.” The workshop will tackle issues concerning children such as child labor, child trafficking, children of migrants, children victims of human rights violations and “child soldiers”.
There will also be workshops on international efforts to defend human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples for self-determination and against discrimination, the rights of the youth to education and employment.