|A girl from Djibouti in school/ Cover for UNICEF’s Towards a World for Children publication|
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OUAGADOUGOU/NEW YORK, 24 November 2004 – Representatives from over 50 member and observer states of ‘La Francophonie’ – an international organization of countries in which French is an official language – are meeting this week in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to improve collaboration on development planning and financing.
UNICEF has published a new report, Towards a World Fit for Children, for the Francophonie meeting. UNICEF is active in nearly all of the countries represented in ‘La Francophonie’.
The report is a survey of the progress of these nations in meeting goals set during the 2002 UN Special Session on Children. These goals include improving health, education and protection for children around the world.
UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Rima Salah will present the report at a launch on 24 November in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, which will be attended by a representative of ‘La Francophonie’ – Second Under Secretary General Abdou Diouf – and by the First Lady of Burkina Faso.
“The francophone community, whose roster of countries includes nations as diverse as Vietnam, Cameroon, Egypt and Switzerland, can and must work together to live up to the vision of peaceful and equitable development they collectively espouse…this means placing a child’s survival, development and well-being at the heart of that vision, and focusing on the most marginalized, and therefore the most vulnerable children,” said Ms. Salah.
Many francophone countries – and nowhere more acutely than in sub-Saharan Africa – are not reaching their goals for child development. This is due to a vast array of barriers, ranging from poverty, armed conflict, and HIV/AIDS, to lacklustre governance, frail institutions and low capacity.
‘La Francophonie’ includes a diverse range of countries – from the very rich to extremely poor. An important focus of the discussions at the organization’s gathering this week will be economic issues that relate to less-developed nations.
“A common agenda for sustainable development across Francophone countries must be grounded on what is best for children, beginning with decisions on spending,” said Ms. Salah.