Head of Expediency Council Hashemi Rafsanjani meets UNICEF-Iran Representative to discusses children’s rights
Tehran, 3 June 2007 – In a private audience with the former President of Iran, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Representative of UNICEF-Iran, Christian Salazar, today applauded the significant primary health care improvements for children in Iran over the last 27 years, but said that a number of challenges were still lying ahead.
“We particularly appreciate your help in improving the situation of Iran’s children during your tenure as President,” Mr Salazar said.
Between 1990 and 2004, Iran’s child mortality rate of under five-years old dropped from 72 per 1,000 children to 36 per 1,000 children, while nutrition figures showed dramatic improvements in the country, with a decrease of underweight of children under five years old from 16.6 per cent in 1995 to five per cent in 2004  . Between 1980 and 2005, the rate of school enrolment among Iran’s children increased from 63 per cent to 98 per cent . 
Several areas in Iran, however, still suffer from disparities such as the provinces of Sistan and Balouchistan, Hormozgan and West Azerbaijan.
“There are many challenges in the field of HIV/AIDS, juvenile justice and women’s as well as children’s rights that are of great concern to us,” the Head of UNICEF-Iran said.
Singling out the issue of the death penalty for adolescents under the age of 18, still practiced in Iran, Mr Salazar welcomed the new bill on Juvenile Courts, currently under discussion in the Majlis. The bill will be an important milestone in moving towards abolishment of the death penalty for adolescents under the age of 18.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani emphasized the importance of the care given to children for each society, but cautioned that more patience was required to materialize the rights of women and children in Iran. “Spreading information and efforts in the field of advocacy to inform the public about children’s rights can be helpful for the success of UNICEF in Iran,” he said.
“In Iran, everybody emotionally, wants to help women and children and what is important is to find practical ways to translate this attitude into reality.” He said.
Mr. Salazar invited Ayatollah Rafsanjani to contribute to a booklet on how to educate children with kindness and to participate at a reception with children from different provinces of Iran on the occasion of Children’s Day this autumn.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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.
1- Health and nutrition as well as child mortality rates quoted from information provided by Ministry of Health
2-1980 figure of net enrolment reported by UNESCO in its Statistical Yearbook 1998, Section 3-49; 2005 figure of gross enrolment from MDG 2006 report, p. 28 (Farsi version)