Burundi

Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg visits Burundi

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© UNICEF Burundi/2009/Ajia
UNICEF Eminent Advocate for Children Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg pledged to mobilize the international community to support the children of Burundi.

By Olalekan Ajia

BUJUMBURA, Burundi, 16 June 2009 – UNICEF Eminent Advocate for Children, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg has pledged to defend the interests of the children of Burundi as well as all children in the international community.

During a recent visit with President Pierre Nkurunziza, she praised Burundi’s progress towards lasting peace and reconciliation. She was visited the Mpimba Central Prison and called for the release of all children being held as prisoners.

President Nkurunziza noted he has ordered the release of children from prison and requested help to rehabilitate the children once released. Some 300 children, including babies born in prison and adolescents, are believed to still be behind bars, however – often for minor offences. 

Recovery underway

Burundi, which is one of the world’s poorest nations, is beginning to recover in the aftermath of an ethnic civil war which killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The Grand Duchess also visited Maison Shalom’s City of Angels for orphans and former child soldiers as well as Fondation STAMM’s rehabilitation centres for Single Mothers and Adolescent girls. She visited a class for 1,200 out-of-school Burundian children who’ve been repatriated from Tanzania.  
 
International Day of the Child

One of the highlights of her visit was the participation in Burundi’s first commemoration of the International Day of the Child on 1 June, during which she lit a candle in support of the survival of all Burundian children born in 2009. Approximately one in five children in the country dies before their fifth birthday. The Grand Duchess promised to mobilize the international community to support Burundi.

The Grand Duchess was appointed UNICEF Eminent Advocate for Children on 19 April 2007, and is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO.


 

 

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