ARMM distributes toys and books to conflict-affected children
Cotabato City (25 February 2015) – The Department of Health-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOH-ARMM) distributed on Monday secondhand toys, children’s books and magazines to children in the towns of Mamasapano and Pagalungan in Maguindanao province to help lessen the trauma left by the recent conflicts in said areas.
ARMM Health Secretary Kadil Sinolinding said the project dubbed as “Laruang Pambata, Alay sa Kapayapaan” serves as a psychosocial intervention method to help children overcome fear and anxiety and “to promote sound mental health and to prevent depression among” them.
Sinolinding already led several medical and psychosocial interventions to ease the feeling of fear and anxiety of the children affected in the 25 January clash in Brgy. Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town and the clash of two Moro rebel forces in Pagalungan town this month.
About 70 people were left dead and 5, 000 individuals forced to flee their homes in the encounter involving the police Special Action Force (SAF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano.
“After a series of health interventions in the war affected communities in Mamasapano, we found out that trauma brought about by the 25 January clash is the most difficult to handle,” he added.
Meanwhile, the clash between MILF forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Pagalungan that started 14 February has left about seven fighters from both sides dead.
About 60% of the close to 9, 000 displaced individuals were children, according to Dr. Tahir Sulaik, Maguindanao health chief.
Sinolinding described the affected people, especially the children, with “fear, anxiety, worries and uncertainties.”
He also explained that the toys will help the children to forget the conflicts and cope with its negative effects. (Bureau of Public Information)