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PIA Press Release

Child group eyes regional protection cluster

By Jean Duron-Abangan

Davao City (27 May) -- The Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children-Technical Working Group (RSCWC-TWG) is setting its eyes on creating a Protection Cluster to save children, women and other disadvantaged groups during disaster.

In a recent TWG meeting, Technical Assistance Division Chief Ma. Vilia Vigil of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) XI explained that protection cluster approach was emphasized during the recently-held RSCWC annual conference, as a way of disaster response.

Vigil shared a presentation shown during the annual conference, noting that the cluster approach in emergency situation was first applied by the United Nations Country Team during the relief response to typhoon Reming onslaught in December, 2006.

After the Reming disaster, government agencies discussed in January 2007, the relevance of applying cluster approach which was seen to have "perfectly fit into existing government coordination structures and response mechanisms."

As a result, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) issued in May 2007, Circular No. 05 series of 2007, entitled "Institutionalization of the Cluster Approach in the Philippine Disaster Management System, Designation of Cluster Leads and their Terms of Reference at the National, Regional and Provincial Level."

In October, 2008, NDCC issued amending circular that merged several clusters and designating government leads.

DSWD together with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees lead the protection cluster at the national level with members: NDCC, departments of interior and local government, education, health, Commission on Human Rights, Council for the Welfare of Children, among others.

While focusing on children, women, internally displaced persons, persons with disabilities, the protection cluster primarily tackles such disaster concerns as denial of /limited humanitarian assistance, discrimination in aid provision, forced relocation, sexual and gender-based violence and unsafe or involuntary return or re-settlement.

Meanwhile, Vigil said that the United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF) wanted children be given especial attention during disasters and emergencies which, UNICEF pointed out, "can exacerbate existing child protection issues and introduce new threats."

A UNICEF presentation explained child protection as "protection of children from violence, exploitation, abuse; and promotion of their development and psycho-social well-being.

As protective environment for children is a must at all levels, at all times, UNICEF wants such environment be developed in disaster and emergency situations. (PIA XI) [top]

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