UN praises Philippines-Muslim rebel peace deal
United Nations - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday praised the recent peace accord ending a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency that killed 150,000 people, offering UN aid "as needed."
The agreement would see the establishment of a new semi-autonomous Muslim area in the resource-rich southern Philippine region of Mindanao, which the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front regards as its ancestral homeland.
Ban commended "President Benigno Aquino for his vision and courage, as well as the commitment of the MILF leadership, in reaching this landmark achievement," according to a UN statement.
The secretary general expressed "his heartfelt wishes for peace and prosperity to the government and the people of the Philippines," and in particular the people in the new semi-autonomous region, called Bangsamoro.
Mindanao served as a base for the MILF, the biggest and most important remaining rebel group, after the Moro National Liberation Front signed a peace pact with the government in 1996.
It is one of the most fertile and resource-rich parts in the archipelago -- but decades of violence and unrest have left it into one of the poorest regions of the Philippines.
The rebellion, which began in 1978, has left 150,000 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
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