UNICEF and UNDP call for Belizeans to observe Global Week of Action against Gun Violence
Belize City, June 12, 2009 - The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) combine their voices to urge Belizeans to support the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA’s) Global Week of Action against Gun Violence - June 15 to 21.
The Global Week of Action is an opportunity for Belizeans to join with other voices from across the world to maintain attention on gun violence as a major citizen security and child protection issue. The Week of Action, comes on the heels of a meeting last week in Honduras, where the Organisation of American States adopted the Declaration 'Towards a Culture of Non-Violence' during its General Assembly. The 34 states attending recognised that violence in their societies, including armed violence, hinders the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. They agreed to make progress in implementing the UN Programme of Action and to increase cooperation to combat illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms.
Kristine Blokhus, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP in Belize commented that “each year, activists around the world use the Global Week of Action against Gun Violence to raise awareness, campaign for better gun laws, and push for stronger regulation of the global arms trade. UNDP and UNICEF are coming together on this crucial issue to encourage the Government of Belize to ratify the UN Firearms Protocol and to implement the UN Programme of Action. Armed violence is an impediment to the development of this – and every - country, and we would encourage the Government of Belize to make its views on this issue known to the Secretary General”
“The murder rate in Belize is sadly an increasing one. Too many of our Belizean children, young children and adolescents, and women in Belize are threatened by or are victims of, guns” added Rana Flowers, Country Representative for UNICEF in Belize. “The escalating gun violence has generated a culture of fear which prevents many children and adolescents from engaging in positive community activities. Our efforts to create safe spaces in communities must continue to be accompanied by other actions to curb the movement, availability and use of weapons in Belize.”
In addition to calling for Government action, UNICEF and UNDP are encouraging all Belizeans to take a stand against the violence in their communities. They invite ideas and proposals from young people themselves on concrete steps to be taken to mitigate the impact of violence with small arms.
The Global Week of Action is organised by “IANSA”, which is an international non-governmental organization that is recognized by the United Nations. Based in London, IANSA has more than 800 member organizations in 120 countries, working to stop the proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons.
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