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UNICEF Executive Director embarks on Africa journey

Tuesday, 8 February 2000: Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, begins a four-nation, 14-day tour of Africa this week, during which she will meet national leaders, visit education and health projects, speak with children, and address several grave challenges facing young people across the continent, including AIDS, widespread poverty, gender discrimination, and conflict.

Each of the countries on Ms. Bellamy's tour -- South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, and Burundi -- suffers from at least one of those challenges. In Namibia, for example, one in five adults is believed to be infected with AIDS. In South Africa, despite enormous progress, 61 per cent of children under 16 are living in poverty. Mozambique is 10th in the world in under-five mortality. And in Burundi, conflict has left tens of thousands of people homeless and last year claimed the life of UNICEF's top country official. It was the only assassination of a UNICEF Representative in the agency's 54 years.

The trip comes on the heels of a month-long focus on Africa by the UN Security Council. With her mission to the continent, Ms. Bellamy will underscore the Security Council's emphasis on humanitarian concerns, spotlighting the educational, health and protection issues that challenge the development and well-being of Africa's youngest citizens.

Ms. Bellamy's trip will encompass:

South Africa, Thursday 10 February -- Saturday 12 February

  • Capetown: Meetings with President Mbeki and senior ministers
  • Northern Province: Field visits to education and health projects
  • Pretoria: Meetings with UNICEF and UN country teams
  • Johannesburg: Media event

Namibia, Sunday 13 February -- Tuesday 15 February

  • Gobabis: Visit to early childhood development centre
  • Ondangwa: Tour of state hospital, visit to school board training session,
  • Okakara: Observe "My Future is My Choice" life skills training session
  • Windhoek: Meetings with President Nujoma, several senior ministers

Mozambique, Wednesday 16 February -- Saturday 19 February

  • Maputo: Meeting with President Chissano
  • Sofala Province: Visit vaccination project, primary school, local officials
  • Maputo: Press conference at UNICEF-supported Child Rights Resource Centre
  • Also: Meetings with Prime Minister Mocumbi, Graca Machel

Burundi, Sunday 20 February -- Monday 21 February

  • Bujumbura: Meetings with national leaders and UNICEF staff

Ms. Bellamy noted that sub-Saharan Africa is home to some 300 million people under the age of 18, "all of them entitled to the protections and rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child."

"I hope this trip will help bring attention to the enormous challenges facing the children and young people of Africa," Ms. Bellamy said before her departure from New York. "There is no doubt that children are the nucleus of sustainable global development," she added, "which makes it crucial that those who are committed to human progress take a close look at the well-being of children. That's what this trip is about."

This will be Ms. Bellamy's 17th official visit to Africa during her five years as chief of UNICEF. In that time she has visited 20 different African nations. Of the countries she will explore over the next two weeks, only South Africa has been on her earlier itineraries.

Please email media@unicef.org with comments or requests for more information, quoting CF/DOC/PR/2000/09


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