THE newly created autonomous region in Mindanao has vowed to provide funding and mechanisms to protect the rights of children there, where child poverty is the highest.

Murad Ebrahim, chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, gave a statement of commitment during a special parliamentary session to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a statement.

The convention is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world, it said.

Bangsamoro Parliament members authored a resolution committing greater focus on children’s issues, according to the statement.

“Today’s special parliamentary session is a firm step to change what is business as usual,” said Karin Hulshof, Unicef regional director for East Asia and Pacific.

“We see children and youth are given the rightful space to have their say on what they envision.”

Bangsamoro children are among the poorest in the country and are left behind under all major indicators of development, Unicef said.

Child poverty is highest there at 63.1%, twice as high as the national average. About 1.6 million out of 2.5 million children in the region are living below the poverty line.

About 260,000 children are not in school, and only one in five children from those enrolled complete elementary education, it said.

About 300,000 children below five years or one in two children are chronically malnourished and stunted, compared to one in three children nationwide.

Meanwhile, less than 30% of infants are fully vaccinated and 70 percent of children do not have access to toilets at home. More than 30% of schools do not have toilets, Unicef said. — Norman P. Aquino