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Press release

UNICEF Executive Director commends Turkey’s progress towards MDGs

ISTANBUL, June 29 2007- UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman this week concluded a four-day visit to Turkey that included two international conferences, a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discussions with Turkish children, parents, academics and NGOs.

Ms. Veneman described the visit - her first to Turkey since her appointment as Executive Director in 2005 - as “enlightening” and “productive.”

On behalf of the United Nations, Veneman addressed the fifteenth anniversary summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation initiative in Istanbul. The summit was attended by numerous heads of State and Government. The UNICEF Executive Director also took part in the opening session of the OECD World Forum on Measuring and Fostering the Progress of Societies.

“Data is essential to effective decision-making and UNICEF collects a significant amount of data on children, much of which is included in our annual report The State of the World’s Children. We are very pleased to have been a part of this OECD conference on the importance of data for development,” Veneman told Turkish journalists at a press conference.

During her meeting with Premier Erdogan, Veneman congratulated the Prime Minister on a major campaign to ensure that girls are enrolled in school. The campaign was launched by the Turkish Ministry of National Education in 2003 with support from UNICEF, and has resulted in the enrolment of over 300,000 children – mainly girls – who would otherwise have been out of school.

Veneman also met with a group of parents who have been taking part in courses on parenting at an adult education centre in Istanbul’s Bakirkoy district. The parenting education programme, which incorporates information on issues such as health, nutrition and how to communicate with young children, has been developed with UNICEF’s assistance. The parents, mostly from under-educated, low-income backgrounds, explained how their participation in the program had reduced their use of violence against children, improved their relations with their families and enhanced their children’s performance at school.

The Executive Director also discussed a wide range of topics with adolescents who are members of some of Turkey’s provincial child rights committees. The committees are currently organizing their own child rights campaign, with help from government agencies, UNICEF and the private sector.

At the press conference, Veneman noted that Turkey was making good progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in areas such as reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015, and raising school enrolment rates.

“Relative to the developing world, Turkey is making good progress overall for its children. The country is advancing economically and many of its key social indicators show real improvement,” the Executive Director said. However, she added that, as in other middle-income countries, there were still “important disparities” among geographical areas. She also spoke of the need to improve the quality of education and to better address child protection issues.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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 more information, please contact:
Sema Hosta, Communication Officer, UNICEF Turkey. shosta@unicef.org, Tel: + 90 312 454 10 00




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