Muslim in the Philippines near rebel camp-Jason Gutierrez-IRINA recently announced agreement between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels waging a decades-old insurgency in the southern island of Mindanao paves the way for the establishment of a new autonomous region, more access for humanitarians to conflict-affected areas and an end to the cycle of failed peace deals and displacements.

About 150,000 people have died in one of the region’s longest-running insurgencies, which has left the mineral-rich island mired in poverty.

“This means there will be stability… with the people now able to dream and build communities without fear of evacuating again,” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told IRIN.

“The people, as well as humanitarian actors on the ground, can now invest in long-term development.”

After almost ten years of sporadic failed peace talks, the creation of the “Bangsamoro new autonomous political entity” was announced by President Benigno Aquino in Manila last week after five days of negotiation in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. It is expected to be formally signed Monday.

“While food insecurity and other humanitarian needs may continue in the near term,” said the World Food Programme’s representative in the Philippines, Stephen Anderson, “the peace process… gives real hope of achieving sustainable peace and development for the people of Mindanao.”

“This framework agreement paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao,” Aquino said, adding that the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front  has dropped its bid for independence and opted for autonomy.

The rebels’ chief political officer, said that following the most recent announcement, rebel commanders will be told to follow strictly an existing ceasefire, noting there has been zero fighting this year.

(READ the the full story from IRIN)

IRIN is a humanitarian news and information service of the United Nations

Photo: Young Muslim in the Philippines near rebel camp – by Jason Gutierrez, IRIN

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