Japan, UNDP sign deal to address issue of small arms and light weapons in BARMM
Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Tuesday signed a deal to help combat the sporadic conflicts caused by small arms and light weapons in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko and UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran launched the Assistance for Security, Peace, Integration and Recovery for Advanced Human Security in BARMM (ASPIRE) Project.
Koshikawa said the ASPIRE was the "first large-scale" project to address the issue of small arms and light weapons.
"As this project will be a remarkable step for the Normalization, as the first large-scale and comprehensive project to tackle the issue of private SALWs (small arms and light weapons), I am grateful that Japan can support it," Koshikawa said
The Japanese government will provide a $5 million (around P284 million) grant aid to implement the decomissioning and the normalization aspects of the Mindanao Peace Process.
For his part, Ramchandran said the project was a "pivotal step in the Bangsamoro peace making process".
"With this Japanese contribution, this project will provide technical support to deal with SALW challenges through a component on the effective provision of livelihood support for former combatants and for private arms group members in Bangsamoro," he said.
UNDP will be implementing the project in selected vulnerable communities composed of 6,000 residents.
The event was witnessed by Senior Adviser Ariel Hernandez of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPPARU) and Ali Salik of the Bangsamoro Parliament.
In a message read by Salik, BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim said he considers the partnership as a "huge leap towards normalization".
The ASPIRE project is a "significant and relevant initiative to augment, improve and strengthen the existing policies of the Bangsamoro Government towards normalization which is too crucial yet fulfilling when implemented," Ebrahim said in his message.
Japan has been supporting the peace process for more than two decades.
At present, over $500 million in projects have been undertaken by the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD). Jaspearl Tan/DMS