NEW YORK, 8 December 2006 - Six decades after its inception as a temporary relief agency, UNICEF is marking its 60th anniversary today, celebrating its many achievements on behalf of children all over the world.
Born from the ashes of World War II, UNICEF’s first mission was to provide milk, food, blankets and medicine to millions of European children left hungry, homeless and weakened by war. Serving more than six million meals a day, it quickly earned the nickname, “milkman to the world’s children.”
Once the children of Europe were on their way to recovery, UNICEF broadened its mandate beyond European borders to help children suffering from poverty and illness throughout the world. Ever since then UNICEF has been on an evolutionary journey, adapting to meet the needs of children in an ever changing world.
UNICEF’s advocacy and programming efforts have literally saved the lives of millions of children. UNICEF lists among its achievements: • Conducting global immunization campaigns against six diseases – diphtheria, measles, pertussis, polio, tuberculosis and tetanus – which saves the lives of millions of children every year. • Giving Vitamin A supplements to children has helped reduce mortality by about 25 per cent in areas where child death rates are high. • Campaigning for the production of iodized salt to reduce the risk of mental disability caused by iodine deficiency. An estimated 70 per cent of all households in the developing world now consume iodized salt, sparing millions of children the risk of mental disability. • Getting more children are in school today than in any other time in history. In many parts of the world, disparities in enrolment between boys and girls are narrowing. • Returning hundreds of thousands of children affected by armed conflict and natural disaster to school thanks to the invention of UNICEF’s school-in-a-box.
Perhaps UNICEF’s greatest achievement has been putting children at the center of the international development agenda. No longer a separate cause with separate concerns, children are an important part of global strategies to reduce illness, poverty and mortality while boosting education, gender equality and environmental sustainability. In short, they are at the very heart of the Millennium Development Goals. In the coming years UNICEF will continue to push for the needs of children, centering its efforts on reaching MDG targets by 2015.
Highlights of the 60th anniversary celebration include a commemorative meeting at the UN General Assembly, the screening of a new UNICEF documentary, “Wake Up World,” a photo exhibit and multi-media art show entitled, “Mosaic UNICEF,” and, of course, a celebration with children.
About UNICEF For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.