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Statement by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

New York, 9 August 2011 – “Today, UNICEF joins the international community in celebrating the 2011 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.  The theme - “Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future” - reminds us of how much the human family stands to benefit from the richness and diversity of indigenous peoples.

“It is unacceptable that, despite significant gains over the past two decades, indigenous children today still face widespread disadvantages, often evident in higher mortality and school dropout rates compared to other groups of children. 

“We face a wide gap between legal frameworks and the actual situation of indigenous children. With our strengthened focus on equity, UNICEF is increasing its support and attention to issues affecting indigenous children.

“Based on the recommendations received during its recent dialogue with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and follow-up consultations, UNICEF is now developing a new strategic framework which will guide our work on indigenous and minority issues. In addition, UNICEF will expand its current focus on Latin America and the Caribbean to include the indigenous populations of Africa and Asia.

“Through initiatives such as community radio, school clubs and youth Parliaments, UNICEF is committed to working together with indigenous children themselves to promote and protect their rights. 

“UNICEF is proud to be participating in the new UN Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership (UNIPP), together with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund. This partnership represents an important step towards strengthening the UN system in mainstreaming and integrating indigenous peoples’ issues in practical programmes at the country level, and realizing the rights of indigenous children worldwide.”

For more information:
Kathryn Donovan, kdonovan@unicef.org, UNICEF New York, Tel 1 212 326 7452,
Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, Tel +(507) 3017485

UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 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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