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Courtesy Call on the President of Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 27 May 2004 – Mr. Kul Gautam, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF paid a courtesy call on the President of Mongolia HE Natsag Bagabandi (photo below) on Wednesday, 26th May, 2004 on the eve of the National Summit for Children.
The President briefed the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF about the progress the country made in fulfilling the rights of children in Mongolia. He mentioned about a number of policies, laws and legislation relevant to the survival, development and protection of children that have been passed by the Government which have created an enabling environment for the implementation of children’s programme in Mongolia. Notable among these are, the national law on banning the importation and use of non-iodized salt for human consumption, the approval of the law on domestic violence and a policy on population development related to children. He mentioned that Mongolia was celebrating 2004 as the ‘Year of Family Development’ thus laying great emphasis on the family as a unit for promoting greater social harmony and protection and care of the child within the framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The President mentioned that though the country had made notable progress in the Millennium Development Goals such as lowering infant and under five death rates, increased school enrollment and completion rates, there were some challenges which continue to remain. Notable among these are the slow decline in maternal mortality ratio, reduction of poverty and child malnutrition. He also stressed the need for economic growth with equity, especially among the poor and disadvantaged rural areas, especially the children from the herders families.
He was hopeful that the National Summit on Children would be an excellent opportunity to review the progress made so far since the country had prepared the National Programme of Action following the UN Special Session on Children held in New York in May 2002. The President emphasized the need to keep children at the centre of the development process, especially during the critical phase of the country ’s transition from a centrally planned command economy to an open market economy.
Mr. Kul Gautam thanked the President for his firm commitment towards children and congratulated the efforts of Mongolia in the preparation of a comprehensive National Programme of Action for Children. He was particularly impressed of the role Mongolia had played during the UN Special Session in May 2002 and in his first visit to Mongolia, he was equally impressed of the progress that the country has made in the area of Millennium Development Goals. The Deputy Executive Director emphasized that UNICEF’s role in supporting the Governments efforts in achieving the MDG remains steadfast as 7 out of the 8 MDG goals relate directly to children. Mr. Gautam however stressed the need to pay more attention to overcoming child malnutrition especially nutritional anaemia and Vitamin D deficiency among young children and adolescents. He said apart from supplementation, food fortification with these essential micro- nutrients such as iron and vitamin D would be a sustainable means of providing children with the necessary micronutrients for developing their full potential.
Mr. Gautam also mentioned about the need to install safe water and sanitation facilities in the disadvantaged remote schools which come under the UNICEF supported ‘child- friendly’ project. He said that provision of such basic amenities in schools was equally important as is in the provision of textbooks and teacher training. A safe and healthy physical environment is an essential pre-requisite for making schools ‘child-friendly’ he said. Mr. Gautam also offered UNICEF’s support in the area of training judges, lawyers and police in ‘child-friendly’ procedures for dealing with children and young people who come in conflict with the law. He was also hopeful that a number of laws and legislations which are pending approval of the Parliament would be expeditiously dealt with in the coming session of the Parliament in September. While congratulating the President for Mongolia’s qualification for the Millennium Challenge Account, he said the Government should take this opportunity to utilize these funds for children’s programmes.
Finally, Mr. Gautam informed the President that the UNICEF Executive Board in its forthcoming Annual Session in June 2004 has decided to nominate a Mongolian child for a presentation on children’s participation. He said that this was the very first time that a child will have the opportunity to participate at the Board Session and he congratulated Mongolia for making yet another mark in the area of child participation.
In his concluding remarks, the President was very pleased with the support that UNICEF was providing to the Government in fulfilling the rights of children in Mongolia and wished the National Summit all success.
For more information and interviews, please contact
Chanrav Burenbayar, Communications Officer, UNICEF Mongolia



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