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Unity in Belize: parties endorse plan for kids

BELIZE CITY, 7 September 2004 - The Prime Minister Hon. Said Musa and the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Dean Barrow endorsed a National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents, 2004-2015 (NPA) during a brief ceremony at the Radisson Fort George in Belize City at 8:00am today.

The NPA is a comprehensive instrument that will guide actions intended to promote the holistic development of children and adolescents in Belize over the next eleven years. The Plan outlines objectives, strategies and specific actions in six main areas: health, education, child protection, family, HIV/AIDS and culture.

“Working for children and with children is to work for democracy," said Miss Nadya Vasquez, UNICEF representative in Belize.  "Children's rights help us to find understanding in national interests. The National Plan of Action represents a socio-political action by the State that will help the children of Belize survive and thrive.”

The endorsement of the NPA marks the culmination of an eighteen month process.  In November 2002, with the support of UNICEF, the party leaders appointed three representatives from their respective parties to a ‘Working Group’ that actively engaged in the process of achieving consensus on the National Plan of Action.

The Working Group also included a representative from the National Youth Council, the National Committee for Families and Children, PAHO/WHO and UNICEF and was supported by technical experts from the public and private sectors, civil society, and academia. Consensus was achieved on the document in June 2004.

“The bipartisan approach to developing this NPA for Children and Adolescents is intended to make sure that both the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party, whenever they form the government, will ensure that children are not forgotten when national development plans are being written and implemented” said the Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize, in his speech this morning.

Similarly, the Leader of the Opposition observed that this historical moment represents a milestone for the country, setting children issues above partisan politics and guarantying continues actions on their behalf.    

The National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC) alone with the National Human Advisory Committee will monitor the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents.                                              

UNICEF will continue to provide technical support in the context of a social investment programme and will promote public awareness on these critical steps towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals for Children.

For further information, please contact:

Cesar Villar, UNICEF Belize, Tel: +501 223 3864/3609, cvillar@unicef.org




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