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News note

UNICEF Regional Director greets Morocco’s progress for children

Rabat, 22 April 2009 – In her first official visit to Morocco, Mrs Sigrid Kaag, Regional director of UNICEF for Middle East and North Africa Region met the Prime Minister, Mr. Abbès El Fassi, and had working meetings and discussions with several members of the government of Morocco, local authorities and civil society actors.

Her trip was highlighted by her visit with residents of the region of Marrakech, Tensift Al Haouz. “I am delighted by the relations maintained for decades between Morocco and UNICEF,” Mr. El Fassi told Ms. Kaag. 

Economic and social progress has marked the more than fifty years of collaboration between UNICEF and the government of Morocco.

“UNICEF's policies and programmes in Morocco must be on par with both the level of development and the strategic vision of the country,” said Mrs. Kaag.

During her meetings with the national partners, several issues were identified as priorities, in particular child protection, quality education and child and mother health.

In addition to these priorities, the topic of youth emerged as a component that needs to be dealt with by Morocco urgently. Today, nearly 51 per cent of Moroccans are less than 25 years old. This is a true window of opportunity for the country that should seized by the country to invest in the youth for its social economic development.

During her field visit in the region of Marrakech, Tensift El Haouz, Mrs. Kaag visited a school called “of quality” and three Dar Al Omouma, peri-natal clinics. These two experiences are among the success stories of the cooperation program between Morocco and UNICEF.

The first one, currently being replicated at national level by the Ministry of Education, aims to make the school more attractive and with improved internal and external efficiency.  The second one, also being scaled up thanks to the National Initiative of Human Development, contributes to reduce maternal and child mortality.

Today, four women die daily because of complications related to pregnancy and almost 83 children under five die, usually of preventable causes.Concerning primary education, while nearly 94 per cent of children have access to basic education, there are still challenges to improve the quality of education. 

The successful field and national programmes are helping to drive the positive policy decisions of the country. These experiences, according to the Regional Director should be documented and shared with other countries, particularly in the  African continent and Middle-East region.

While Morocco presents social indicators which show a positive trend during the last decade, crucial disparities persist between urban and rural areas. The cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and UNICEF should contribute more to reduce these disparities.

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, safe 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:

Aniss MAGHRI Communication Specialist 00212 661 489 493   amaghri@unicef.org




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