|Children join the crowd at a UNICEF-supported community cereal bank in Garin Goulbi village south of Maradi, Niger, whose country programme is being considered by the Executive Board.|
By Elizabeth Kiem
NEW YORK, USA, 5 June 2008 – On the second day of its current session in New York, UNICEF’s Executive Board yesterday approved budgets for upcoming programming needs in nine countries and moved towards final endorsement of a formal document laying out the agency’s child protection strategy.
“It’s important,” board President Anders Lidén, Sweden’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said of the new strategy. “It underscores the importance of child protection in what UNICEF is doing.”
The strategy aims to define UNICEF’s contribution to national and international work on ensuring children’s rights to protection. A draft strategy was presented at the board’s first regular session of 2008, held in January. It has since undergone multiple revisions based on consultations with member states.
“Now we have a document that we feel is quite good … and now we shall formally endorse it,” said Mr. Lidén. “Even though UNICEF has already engaged in child protection, it’s obviously a core thing for UNICEF to do.”
The new document lays out strategies for child protection in many contexts, including natural disasters, domestic violence and conflict situations.
‘Resources enable UNICEF to do more’
Earlier in the day, the Executive Board considered draft country programme documents for Benin, the Republic of Congo, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Ecuador, Guatemala and Pakistan.
Regional Director for West and Central Africa Esther Guluma – whose region includes all of the above-mentioned African countries except Sudan – noted that UNICEF’s number-one concern should be with the rampant poverty in those countries, where more than half the population lives below the poverty line. She noted that the trend “will worsen with soaring food prices.”
Responding to the draft country programme for Niger, Executive Board member Robert Hill, Australia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said he was pleased to see the proposed budget for 2009-2013 raised to $84 million in regular resources and $80 million in other resources.
Mr. Hill, who visited Niger with other board members in April, said UNICEF was “helping to build the capacity of government to deliver government programmes to children, and at the same time also carrying out operational work in some parts of the country. We just would like to see more resources enable UNICEF to do more.”
4 June 2008: UNICEF Executive Board President Anders Lidén, Sweden’s Permanent Representative to the UN, speaks about the child protection strategy to be endorsed by the board.
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4 June 2008: UNICEF Executive Board member Robert Hill, Australia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, discusses the challenges facing Niger.
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From The Newsmarket