Deaths of children in Philippines war on drugs rising, says Unicef
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Deaths of children in Philippines war on drugs rising, says Unicef

THE number of minors killed in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs is increasing, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said on Tuesday, adding the instances of young Filipinos subjected to violence was “worrying”.

Unicef’s country representative, Lotta Sylwander, said the deaths of children in the campaign against illicit drugs and in other conflicts was “not acceptable”, regardless of whether or not it was carried out deliberately or by accident.

“We believe that children always should have a second chance, so subjecting them to that kind of violence is really not fair, and these are the forms of violence that we really object to and find not acceptable,” Sylwander said, as quoted by the Inquirer.

SEE ALSO: Drug war ‘still a priority’ for Duterte administration 

An unofficial count by Unicef found 35 children killed in the war on drugs “either directly or accidentally”.

In wake of the deaths, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it has partnered with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the agency leading the anti-drug effort, to introduce measures to avoid “accidental deaths” of minors.

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An alleged drug dealer is handcuffed after a drug buy bust operation conducted by policemen where they caught this 18 year old boy selling marijuana in Manila on May 12, 2018. Source: AFP

“This anti-drug program is very laudable but admittedly there are gaps in the program that are beyond the control of the leaders [of the implementing agencies],” Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova said.

SEE ALSO: Philippines: US remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ over dip in drug war deaths  

Last year, the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos prompted angry protests against the war on drugs.

Nuns, priests and hundreds of children, chanting “justice for Kian, justice for all” joined the funeral cortege as it made its way from a church to the cemetery where the teenager was buried.

The victim’s case has galvanised critics of Duterte’s war on drugs which has killed thousands since he took office in June 2016.