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Unicef unveils online messaging tool in BARMM

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By Noel Punzalan (PNA)

COTABATO CITY — The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) launched Thursday in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) the U-Report application, a free online messaging tool that encourages the youth to be the voice of their communities.

The U-Report uses polls, alerts, and collect real-time responses in advancing adolescent and youth interactions online.

“U-Report will now give adolescents and young people opportunity to make their views known in a much more powerful way,” said Andrew Morris, Unicef Philippines chief of field office in Mindanao, during the launching of the mobile phone application at Shariff Kabunsuan Complex here.

The U-Report, the first in the country with BARMM as the area of choice, was launched in partnership with the Voluntary Service Overseas Philippines and the Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs–BARMM.

“For Unicef, we know that the passion, the ideas, and innovations of young people can transform the Bangsamoro’s future. They need to be involved, consulted, empowered, and be equipped,” Morris said.

To become a U-Reporter, users must log in to their Facebook accounts, search for the U-Report Philippines page, open the messenger app and click join. Upon joining, reporters can start participating in the polls and send reports, “Your voice matters.”

Sign up to U-Report and take part on the weekly polls,” Morris told some 300 youth representatives present at the launching ceremony.

The U-Report, currently active in 53 countries, is a social platform created by Unicef, made available via SMS (Short Message Service), Facebook and Twitter where young people and adolescents express their opinion and be positive agents of change in their communities.

It works by gathering opinions and information from young people on topics ranging from employment to discrimination and peace-building.

U-Reporters respond to polls, report issues and support child rights with data and insights shared back with communities and connected to policy makers who make decisions that affect youth and adolescents.