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Netherlands gives UNICEF largest single donation ever

Over 200 million for Education in Emergency and Post Crisis Countries

GENEVA/THE HAGUE, 22 December 2006 - Millions of children in the developing world have a new ray of hope as the Dutch Government today announced it has pledged $201 million to UNICEF to radically expand the agency's ongoing efforts to ensure that children in conflict, natural disasters and emerging from crisis can go to school.

It is the single largest earmarked donation UNICEF has received in its 60-year history.  While schooling children stuck in emergencies, whether conflict or natural disasters, is a core part of UNICEF's mandate, this donation will allow for a dramatic scaling up of programmes.  Children recover more quickly if they are in school, a safe haven both physically and psychologically.

"UNICEF has a proven track record in innovation and working with local community organizations.  We know our investment will bring us much closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially those on Education FOR ALL BOYS AND GIRLS," said Dutch minister for Development Cooperation, Agnes van Ardenne.  Presently half of the children in the world who currently receive no education live in the 70 countries in which a conflict is raging or has raged.

The donation came as the Dutch Government moves toward increasing its assistance for education to 15 per cent of its official development aid in 2007.

"We will use this uniquely generous donation from the Dutch people to reach more children with even better quality programmes," said Karin Hulshof, Director of Programme Funding for UNICEF.  "Millions of children who might never have had the joy of the first day of school, never seen a book or held a pencil will be transformed thanks to this gift."

It is expected that 40 countries in emergency or post crisis situations would benefit from this additional funding, including countries such as: Sudan, Liberia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, occupied Palestinian territories, Nepal, Myanmar, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Cote d'Ivoire, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Swaziland.  The programme will enable ten million children who are currently deprived of any form of education to return to school and will give another 15 million living in crisis situation a better education.

The funds will be distributed over four years and will accelerate progress in education for post crisis countries, so that they can get back to a normal development path in the earliest possible time.

Practically speaking it means improved access to schools, training teachers, developing learning materials, making learning spaces and schools more child-friendly and better equipped.  The donation will also fund emergency response programmes for children living in areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters to improve their chances of survival.

The Dutch Government will be closely monitoring the results of the donation, releasing funds following an annual year-end review.  

"We hope to learn the best way to build up stable education systems in countries recovering from crisis, as we are strongly committed to provide primary education to all boys and girls," said Agnes van Ardenne.

UNICEF will also receive an additional US$ 56 million for water and sanitation programmes, US$ 24 million for child protection programmes and US$ 24 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment from the Dutch Government.

"This donation perfectly reflects UNICEF's priorities for children," said Hulshof.  "Education, health, protection and HIV/AIDS prevention are all essential to ensuring a solid future for children and for all of us."

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 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.

For further information, please contact:

Michael Bociurkiw, UNICEF Geneva: +41 79 216 9401; mbociurkiw@unicef.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media Section: +1 212 326 7452; kdonovan@unicef.org




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