Referring to the wider world of children, the UNICEF Executive Director felt there was much to celebrate since children were generally healthier and more were in school. At the same time, she noted how the world itself had changed over the past fifteen years and how UNICEF had itself had to build new capacities in response to new challenges, such as HIV/AIDS and the rise of new kinds of instability and conflict.
The Executive Director referred to how HIV/AIDS had redefined all aspects of childhood, from child illness, to child labour, sexual abuse and the family. She went on to refer to the incredible global response to the Tsunami tragedy as a beacon of hope which served to demonstrate how the world could find the strength and resources to meet major challenges. UNICEF’s success in raising funds in the aftermath of the Tsunami disaster she believed had not been accidental but was because the organization was seen as “ a trustworthy organization that not only cares deeply about children, but shares its knowledge and expertise with others in order to get things done.”
The Executive Director referred to some of the strategic global initiatives which UNICEF was now working with, including the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and how the organization was committed to cooperating with Governments and other UN agencies and partners to help achieve the Millennium Goals for Children. She also told of how UNICEF was now working more actively to encourage children’s participation and listen to what children themselves had to say.
In thanking the Government for their contributions to the development of the new UNICEF Country Progranmme for 2006-10, the Executive Director referred to the new frontiers now being explored “in areas such as child protection and child injury, while still building on best practices in health, education and more established areas of cooperation”.
Deputy Director of the Office of the National Working Committee for Children and Women (NWCCW), Mme Zhang Liming then expressed her thanks to UNICEF and its partners for the major contribution made to the development of China’s children. She then outlined the more significant of these achievements including in education and protection, including the increased budgetary allocations being made to child health and education sectors.
During a Q-and-A session with 30 teenaged students from a Beijing foreign language school, the Executive Director responded to questions ranging from her impressions of Chinese children to the possibility of working for UNICEF in the future. Specific questions regarding health, education, nutrition and water quality in China were fielded by programme partners in the audience. One student asked about social policy for HIV infected children, while another questioned whether alternative student assessment instruments existed with which to reduce the current dependence on frequent examinations. Another student asked why Chinese tap water was not drinkable as it was instead in the US.
At the close of this lively session, the Executive Director then received on behalf of UNICEF a cheque for US $ 6.5 million symbolically representing the Government of China’s donation to the UNICEF Tsunami Appeal. She was also presented with an award from the Ministry of Commerce for “its heartfelt appreciation to Ms Bellamy for her support to the welfare of Chinese children and her contribution to child development throughout the world”.
Closing on a personal note, Bellamy thanked China on her last visit as UNICEF Executive Director for the generosity and hospitality shown to her over the years and how her visits had always been a challenge, as well as always a joy, as well as always providing her with valuable lessons. Although this was goodbye to Carol Bellamy, she emphasized, she was confident that the cooperation between China and UNICEF would continue with the same energies, sacrifices and passion to achieve even greater successes in the future.
The Forum itself was followed by a Press Encounter at which Bellamy fielded questions from the Chinese and International media on some of the newer areas of UNICEF cooperation which addressed some of the major challenges China still faced, including HIV/AIDS. She called for more to be done to address pediatric AIDS treatment which she felt had been a neglected area. Asked about her future beyond the completion of her second term with UNICEF at the end of next month, she answered that she is to lead a US-based organization called “World Learning” and also hopes that she will visit China again in the future.
For further information and interview requests, please contact:
Charles Rycroft (English language) (86-10) 6532-3131(Ex 1301) 13641290007
Ms Zhang Wen (Chinese/English) (86-10) 6532-3131 (Ex 1304)