ADDIS ABABA, 5 October 2009 - Partnership with the African Union (AU) is crucial for the advancement of priorities for children in Africa, said El Hadj As Sy, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), while on a visit to the AU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 28 September to 3 October 2009. He said this to key AU officials on behalf of three Africa Regional Directors from West and Central Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and ESA.
“It is pertinent for us to demonstrate our serious commitment and collaboration, working with the AU as an entry point into value-added continental level policy advocacy, implementation and engagement with political leaders for the benefit of children,” said Mr. Sy, who was in Addis Ababa to re-energize UNICEF’s commitment and sustained partnership with the AU and its Member States, UN sister agencies, partners and regional NGO’s promoting child rights in Africa.
Mr. Sy highlighted the need to build on already existing AU instruments, as well as enhance partnerships with regional economic communities and institutions, so as to tap into Africa’s huge potential and opportunities to improve the lives of children. “These are our institutions and we need to respect, value and work through them,” he stressed. He reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to deepen its engagement in areas that needed technical assistance, and focus on translating child policies into action.
Mr. Sy raised concern about the millions of children in Africa who are almost permanently living in crisis, and called for enhanced effort to respond to their special needs. “In this regard, UNICEF and the AU need to engage in fewer strategic activities that have a high impact on children,” he emphasized.
“The AU shares common values with UNICEF and hence the need to address continental challenges together by developing joint strategic and concrete actions on areas of mutual interest,” said H.E. Prof. Jean Pierre Onvehoun Ezin, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, on behalf of H.E Mr. Erastus J.O Mwencha, Deputy Chair of the AU Commission.
“The AU is a credible institution and leadership standards have been consistently high, and more and more people today believe in it,” said H.E Abdoullie Janneh, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of UNECA. “We seek UNICEF’s leadership to help build on gains that have already been realized among African children,” H.E Janneh added.
“The establishment of the UNICEF Liaison Office, headed by a senior colleague, Mrs. Akila Belembaogo, to serve as our Special Representative to the AU and UNECA, is an illustration of the importance UNICEF attaches to regional cooperation,” Mr. Sy concluded.
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.
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