Azerbaijan: Government and UNICEF celebrate 60th anniversary
BAKU, December 15, 2006 – A concert and reception at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic held on 14 December 2006 was the culmination of a series of events throughout 2006 to celebrate UNICEF 60th anniversary. The gala event was celebrated with the participation of leaders from government, civil society, the diplomatic community, private sector and media.
Famous works by international and Azerbaijani composers were performed by the newly-created Children Symphonic Orchestra. The event opened with a performance by the renowned Azerbaijani pianist Murad Adigezalzade and the leading opera singer Azer Zeynalov.
“UNICEF has always helped to protect the rights of children and women in this country, especially those who suffered as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” said Deputy Prime Minister Elchin Efendiev in his opening speech. “We appreciate the work that UNICEF is doing, particularly in the sphere of child protection helping to improve the lives of vulnerable children including disabled children, street children and those left without parental care.”
About 300 guests attended the event, including which were senior ministers from the Government, members of Parliament, public figures, Ambassadors, journalists and young people.
"Poverty reduction cannot succeed without first ensuring the well-being of children"- UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan
Welcoming guests, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan, Hanaa Singer, talked about UNICEF and its work to help build a ‘world fit for children’. “In Azerbaijan the UN dream is to join hands to change the black gold into human gold,” she said.
“To us, child poverty is an issue of compelling moral and ethical significance as even short-term poverty can affect the rest of a child’s life and can leave a legacy for the next generation. That is why poverty reduction cannot succeed without first ensuring the well-being of children. A young child’s growing mind and body cannot wait for economic development to trickle down to the poorest families. He or she needs action now. Investing fully in children today, will ensure the well-being and productivity of future generations,” she continued.
During the event, a letter of greeting from the First Lady and President of the Heydar Aliev Foundation, Ms. Mehriban Aliyeva, was read out.
The President of Azerbaijan also congratulated UNICEF, sending a letter to UNICEF Executive Director, Ann Veneman. “The people of Azerbaijan will not forget the assistance of the Fund to the refugee children driven from their homelands as a result of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict. UNICEF country office in Azerbaijan has done a lot in the country during transition,” the letter says.
Rather than a one-off event, in Azerbaijan the 60th anniversary of UNICEF was a year-long celebration incorporating many activities and events. Highlights among these included the “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS” National youth football tournament organized in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports which toured throughout the country. An important Conference on Child Protection reform was also held and will be followed up by the launch of a Child Parliament for the first time in Azerbaijan.
To mark the occasion of the 60th anniversary of UNICEF a number of stories on UNICEF were published by both print and broadcast media.
Not just be an occasion for celebration, all these events were also an opportunity for advocacy and reflection on the achievements of the Government and UNICEF in the area of child rights, as well a chance to consider new endeavors and future challenges.
UNICEF was one of the first United Nations agencies to open its doors in Azerbaijan in 1994 when it began its work to assist internally displaced people and refugee women and children caught up in the struggles of the transition period. Since then UNICEF has started to re-orient the focus of its activities from direct relief assistance towards longer term development goals.
UNICEF’s achievements in the country include, but are not limited to:
For further information please contact:
Ayna Mollazade, Communication Officer