At a glance: Korea, Republic of

In the Republic of Korea, parliamentarians reaffirm their commitment to reducing preventable child deaths

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Republic of Korea/2012/Hwang
Nearly 100 dignitaries and university students gather to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF at the Korean National Assembly building.

By Hiroyuki Saito and Sang-Mi Lee

SEOUL, Republic of Korea, 1 October 2012 - This fifth birthday party was not a typical one, here at the Korean National Assembly building. Nearly 100 dignitaries and university students gathered to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF (KPFU).

This bipartisan coalition was formed by parliamentarians to secure the budget for and provide necessary policy endorsement to realize children’s rights.

Young beneficiaries ‘join’ the event

During the ceremony, dozens of young beneficiaries of the programme conveyed video messages to the ‘friends from Korea.’

“I congratulate the Korean friends on their fifth anniversary,” said more than a dozen 5-year-olds at a kindergarten in Darfur, Sudan, in unison. The children introduced themselves and talked about what they want to be in the future. In a video from Cambodia, boys and girls explained the importance of keeping their hands clean and being immunized. “I took my children to the health centre for vaccination to prevent them from other diseases. I’m so happy to see my daughter in such good health,” said a mother who benefited from a campaign conducted by UNICEF Cambodia.

“It was great to see 5-year-old children in good health, full of vigour, playing …And children and mothers are learning something important to improve their lives through UNICEF’s activities,” said the Honourable Song Kwang-ho of KPFU.

Reaching the age of 5

Mr. Song told event participants that KPFU’s reaching the age of 5 meant a lot to him in the context of UNICEF and child mortality. “I’m so humbled to be able to say, ‘Happy fifth birthday’ today, because I know that, for so many kids all over the world, it is very difficult to get to that tender age.”

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Republic of Korea/2012/Hwang
The Honourable Song Kwang-ho (right), Honourable Lee Joo-young (second from right), Honourable Lee Jasmin (second from left) and university students call on participants to help every child reach her or his fifth birthday.

More children across the globe are now surviving to their fifth birthdays than ever before, according to UNICEF’s Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Progress Report 2012.

“For the first time in a long time,” said President of the Korean Parliamentarian League on Children, Population and Environment the Honourable Lee Joo-young, “the worldwide under-5 deaths fell below the seven million line, and, with this positive news, I’m truly happy to celebrate our continuing growth.” The Korean Parliamentarian League on Children, Population and Environment is an umbrella organization to tackle international issues that consists of 66 politicians; KPFU is also a member.

Renewed commitment

The Republic of Korea was once an aid recipient of UNICEF. The country has become a major donor country; it joined the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2009.

When KPFU was created in 2007, the government’s contribution to UNICEF was approximately $7.6 million. Last year, its input was $14.4 million, which places the country in nineteenth position among government and intergovernmental donors to the organization.

Participants – KPFU members, high-level government officials, members of the diplomatic corps based in Seoul, staff members of UNICEF and other United Nations agencies and representatives from non-governmental organizations and academia – renewed their commitment.

“Our ultimate goal is for every single child across the world to be able to have a happy fifth birthday. Please come join us to achieve this objective,” said Mr. Lee.

The momentum created at this event will be carried to the third Korea–Africa Forum, which takes place in Seoul between 16 and 18 October.


 

 

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