|© UNICEF Sudan/2006/Corti|
|Japan’s Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, holds six-month-old Aluel Manyang at a UNICEF-supported community centre during a recent visit to Rumbek, Southern Sudan.|
By Kun Li
NEW YORK, USA, 29 March 2006 – Renewing its commitment to the world’s children, the Government of Japan has announced a $76 million donation to support UNICEF’s work.
The bulk of the donation, $49 million, will support efforts to prevent the spread of avian influenza, also known as ‘bird flu’, in Asia and Africa. Another $25 million will fund programmes to help restore social services and sustain peace in three African nations recovering from years of civil conflict. And $2 million will be dedicated to helping Pakistan recover from last year’s massive earthquake.
Flu awareness and prevention
UNICEF's Coordinator for Avian Influenza, Dr. Gepke Hingst, said the funding from Japan will be used largely to help children and families better protect themselves from the disease.
"We will use it for communication, awareness campaigns and social mobilization around avian and human influenza,” said Dr, Hingst. “In addition, the contribution will help us procure hygiene supplies and develop the possible vaccination strategies."
Eleven countries that are considered high-risk for avian influenza – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Nigeria and Niger – will benefit from the donation. “There’s a lot that we can do, protecting women and children,” said the Director of UNICEF’s Tokyo office, Yoshiteru Uramoto. “Critical information is a must at the moment.” Mr. Uramoto added that children in particular “have to be empowered” with knowledge about the dangers of direct contact with chickens and other birds, which can spread avian flu to humans.
Peace-building and reconstruction
Japan’s contribution to programmes in three post-conflict African nations – including $7.3 million in Burundi, $11 million in the Democratic Republic of Congo and $6.7 million in Liberia – follows a visit last month by Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhisa Shiozaki to Southern Sudan, another region that has recently emerged from a brutal civil war. In Sudan, Mr. Shiozaki saw firsthand the efforts of UNICEF and its partners to bring basic services to women and children.
|© UNICEF Sudan/2006/Corti|
|Senior Vice-Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki hands over textbooks donated by Japan to a local school principal in Rumbek, Southern Sudan.|
“The trip to Sudan gave me a deep impression that UNICEF's support to communities and families is an extremely important part of the ‘peace consolidation' process,” Senior Vice-Minister Shiozaki said in a speech in February. “It was encouraging to see various agencies and civil society working together for the same cause.”
The donation toward UNICEF’s work in Burundi, DR Congo and Liberia will support similar peace-building and reconstruction efforts. Among other initiatives, the funding will help UNICEF and its partners to:
“By providing these services we are helping to consolidate and sustain peace,” explained Mr. Uramoto of UNICEF Tokyo. “When women and children return to their villages, if they find no water supply, no schools to go to, no health care services, then what does peace mean to them?” Despite enormous needs in the affected countries, said Mr. Uramoto, “this donation is a step forward to make life easier for women and children who suffered so much from the conflict.”
Impact on UNICEF’s work
The $76 million contribution announced today is just the most recent example of Japan’s consistent support for UNICEF over the years. In 2005 alone, the Government of Japan, the Japan Committee for UNICEF and the Japanese general public contributed a combined total of $300 million benefiting UNICEF projects worldwide.
“On behalf of UNICEF, I want to express our sincere gratitude to the Government of Japan and the Japanese people,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Toshiyuki Niwa. “Their trust and generosity will make a tremendous impact on UNICEF’s work and the well-being of millions of children.”
Tim Ledwith and Eric Mullerbeck contributed to this story.
On behalf of UNICEF, Deputy Executive Director Toshiyuki Niwa thanks Japan for the $76 million donation.