NEW YORK, United States of America, 12 September 2012 – UNICEF’s regional directors took centre stage at the second regular session of the UNICEF Executive Board to present programmes for nine countries, including Haiti, Libya and the Sudan.
In his general introduction, UNICEF Director of Programmes Nicholas Alipui said that the country programmes would be implemented in a period of significant transition for UNICEF, for the United Nations and across the global and humanitarian landscape.
|12 September 2012: UNICEF Director of Programmes Nicholas Alipui presents the country programmes for Libya and the Sudan to the second regular session of the UNICEF Executive Board.|
“These country programmes will be starting against a backdrop of a fragile global economic situation and effects of the slow recovery of the preceding years of financial crisis. Some of these countries are prone to natural disasters, while others are recovering from social upheavals,” he said.
UNICEF country programmes are approved in a two-step process. The Board approves the resource allocations for the programmes at this session, and the complete country programmes are approved on a no-objection basis at the following session.
Successes and challenges in the Middle East and North Africa
Mr. Alipui presented country programmes for the Middle East and North Africa region. He introduced the country programme for Libya, a country that has been in transition since the overthrow of its government in 2011.
|12 September 2012: West and Central Africa Regional Director, a.i. Manuel Fontaine presents the country programmes for Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea to the second regular session of the UNICEF Executive Board.|
He outlined some of UNICEF’s achievements during the period of upheaval in the country, including providing safe drinking water to 1,200,000 children, along with conducting extensive vaccination campaigns and providing mine risk education.
UNICEF’s programme of cooperation aims to help the Government of Libya embed child rights into its policies as it moves towards stability. It pays particular attention to those policies that help the government to meet the Millennium Development Goals and build a society that offers equal opportunities to all Libyan children.
Presenting the country programme for the Sudan, Mr. Alipui outlined some of the country’s successes. It has been free of polio since 2009, and its under-5 mortality rate has declined more than 30 per cent in the past twenty years.
UNICEF’s country programme targets the significant challenges facing the Sudan, including the high rate of children out of school, such social factors as female genital cutting and child marriage, and the low rate of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition who receive treatment.
|12 September 2012: Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Director Bernt Aasen presents the country programme for Haiti to the second regular session of the UNICEF Executive Board.|
Resilience in times of crisis in West and Central Africa
West and Central Africa Regional Director, a.i. Manuel Fontaine, in presenting the country programmes for Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea, said that the challenges for the region were immense.
“WCARO continues to face political, security and humanitarian crises in a context of consistently high levels of chronic poverty and enduring inequalities,” he said. “An estimated 18 million people in the Sahel region face a severe food and nutrition crisis due to repeated droughts, high grain prices, environmental degradation and conflict-related displacements.” About 1.1 million children will face severe acute malnutrition this year.
Mr. Fontaine indicated that the region had shown better than expected resilience to the food, fuel and economic crises it had faced. He added that several countries had recorded significant improvements in child survival, the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS and in basic education.
Sustaining achievements in Latin America and the Caribbean
Country programmes for Haiti and Nicaragua were presented by Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Director Bernt Aasen.
The programme for Haiti will ensure better healthcare for children, including neonatal care and HIV protection and treatment. It will also support communities in providing better nutrition and support the Government of Haiti as it endeavours to increase school enrolment and to remove the financial barriers to education.
“We know that keeping children in school is one of the best ways to protect them from violence and abuse,” Mr. Aasen said.
The programme in Nicaragua has designed its strategies such that disparities and inequalities will be reduced. Indigenous and other vulnerable populations are targeted by the programme to improve access to health and nutrition services and education and protection.
|A delegate from Equatorial Guinea speaks at the second regular session of the UNICEF Executive Board, United Nations New York headquarters,12 September 2012.|
Assistance will be provided in capacity-building of public institutions and regional governments, including indigenous territorial governments.
South Africa was the focus of the report of Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Director Elhadj As Sy. One of the heaviest burdens it faces is HIV/AIDS. More than five million people live with HIV, making South Africa one of the most affected countries in terms of absolute numbers. HIV also contributes to the country’s high rate of maternal mortality.
Violence against children is another significant challenge for South Africa.
Mr. As Sy said the overall goal of the South Africa country programme is to accelerate the realization of children’s rights and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, with a focus on bridging the deep-seated inequities and widespread child poverty in the country.
In presenting the common country programme for Pakistan, South Asia Regional Director Karin Hulshof said the highest priority is to help Pakistan meet the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in poverty and hunger, education, maternal health and environmental sustainability. East Asia and Pacific Regional Director Daniel Toole reported on the results of the midterm review of the country programme for Timor-Leste.
Emerging from the trap of disadvantage and inequity
Introducing the session, Mr. Alipui pointed out that the common factors that threaten children’s rights – factors such as marginalization, violence and the effects of migration – are not confined to low-income countries. And he urged extra vigilance to maintain the progress that has been made.
“The results that have been achieved for children over the last few years, no matter how modest, will need to be protected and sustained and taken even further, ensuring that the poorest, most marginalized children emerge from the trap of disadvantage and inequity,” he said.
The second regular session of the Executive Board is held at United Nations headquarters in New York. The 2012 meeting was convened yesterday with a focus on partnerships and concludes Friday 14 September.
UNICEF Executive Board 2012