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On first official visit to the UAE, UNICEF Regional Director Sigrid Kaag discusses children’s rights with HH Sheikha Fatima

ABU DHABI, 9 December 2009 – The situation of women and children in the United Arab Emirates was at the center of discussions that UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Sigrid Kaag had with Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation, President of the General Women’s Union and President of the Higher Council for Motherhood and Childhood, as well as with other senior UAE officials.

“The UAE has made a significant progress in the areas of health, education and protection. We are confident that more will be done to continue to ensure that all children are safe from harm, abuse and exploitation,” Kaag said concluding her three-day visit to the UAE.

Kaag commended HH Sheikha Fatima for her patronage and unwavering support for children’s issues in the UAE and presented Her Highness with a plaque as a symbol of recognition of her leadership. 

During their talks, Kaag highlighted the progress of UNICEF projects with the General Women’s Union, including the formulation of a national childhood strategy which will focus on the survival, development, protection and participation of children in the UAE. A situation analysis is currently being prepared to reflect on the situation of women and children in the Emirates.

Over 90 per cent of children in the UAE are attending primary school and the country is on track to achieve universal primary education by the year 2015. UNICEF estimates the under-five mortality rate in the UAE at 8 per 1,000 live births, a considerable decrease from 15 per 1,000 live births in 1990. More can be done, however, to address issues such as youth participation and empowerment as well as in the field of protection, said Kaag.

"The UAE have already met the set targets for a number of Millennium Development Goals while others are well on track,” said Kaag. “We are confident that data collection will further enhance policy formulation and programme implementation”.

Kaag’s visit also marks the conclusion of the camel jockeys’ project in which UNICEF and the UAE government worked to identify children used as camel jockeys and to reunite them with their families. “The Government of the UAE has made positive strides in addressing the serious protection concern affecting children previously involved in the camel jockeys industry,” she said.

The UNICEF official discussed with counterparts emerging policy issues and priorities in the UAE and the region. Discussions focused on the challenges of the high prevalence of child obesity and preventable injuries in children, the opportunities to strengthen dialogue on youth participation, child protection and children with disabilities. Meetings were held with HH Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, HH Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, wife of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the Red Crescent Authority, HE. Ali Salim Al Ka'abi, Head of the Board of Trustees of the Family development Foundation, Ms. Nora Al Suweidy, Manager of the General Women’s Union and Mr. Mohamed Haji Al Khoori, Executive Director of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation.

Throughout long years of collaboration and partnership, the UAE government and private donors have generously contributed to UNICEF’s mission - most recently to humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Yemen and Afghanistan. UNICEF received USD 2 million from Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation to fund its education programme in Afghanistan.
The visit also marked the launch of UNICEF partnership with ANASY Documentary Awards 2010. www.anasydocawards.com


UNICEF video and high-resolution photography for media organizations is available at: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef

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:
Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, UNICEF Regional Office in the Middle East and North Africa,
Tel + 962-79-700-4567,
E-mail: arghandour@unicef.org 

Zeina Habib Lietaert, Communication & Partnership Specialist, UNICEF Gulf Area Office,
Tel + 971506562753,
E-mail: zhabib@unicef.org




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