UNICEF adopts country program for Afghanistan

Statement made by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the occasion of the UNICEF Executive Board Meeting
dedicated to the adoption of the UNICEF Country Programme for Afghanistan

Mr. President,

I want to begin by expressing Afghanistan’s sincere condolences to China and Myanmar on the terrible natural disasters that affected both countries and resulted in death of thousands of people including children.

Mr. President,

Since the beginning of the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan in 2002, the Government of Afghanistan and UNICEF have succeeded to develop a strong partnership aimed to uphold the rights of Afghan children and women. Today, I would like to express my gratitude to UNICEF for its continuous support and constructive activities in Afghanistan in the field of health, education and gender equality, water and environmental sanitation programme as well as child protection.

Mr. President,

I would like to thank Mr. Toole for his very comprehensive presentation of the country programme for Afghanistan. Afghanistan welcomes the proposed one year extension of the Country Programme aimed to align programmes cycles supported by the United Nations with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy Framework. This positive initiative will accelerate the implementation of our common vision which is to create in Afghanistan an environment where the rights of children and women to development, protection and participation are realized.

We are thankful to UNICEF for the allocation of $30, 168,000 from regular resources and $60, 884, 000 in other sources to the country programme for Afghanistan for the year 2009 and we are looking forward to have an increase in the budget allocated for the child protection as the protection of children against violence, exploitation and abuse is a high priority in Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan is firmly committed to improving the situation of children and women and has achieved remarkable progress in this area as highlighted in the country programme. We are seeing more children going to school as well as an improvement of maternal

health care services, and there are projects around the country to tackle the huge rates of female illiteracy. We’ve been effective in reducing child and maternal mortality rates and polio has significantly declined thanks to the cooperation of UNICEF.
Nevertheless we have a long way to go and formidable challenges remain in all areas. Insecurity caused by the resurgence of terrorist activities by the Taliban and Al-Qaida- especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country – remains the major obstacle in
improving the lives of Afghan children and women. The terrorists continue to burn schools, hospitals, and threaten teachers and children from attending school. Children remain the prime victim of this intimidation campaign as it affects school attendance and girl’s enrollment in particular.

Mr. President,

The global food crisis has also affected the lives of our population and especially our children. We welcome the Executive Director’s attention on this issue and we encourage UNICEF to address the looming food price crisis through strengthening emergency preparedness particularly school feeding.
Mr. President,
In order to translate our political will into coherent actions at a country level, we need from our development partners to coordinate their efforts and create a synergy aiming to improve the impact of aid in the country. I would particularly like to emphasize on the need for the UN development entities operating in Afghanistan to consolidate their activities in order to support our efforts to reach the Millennium Developments Goals and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals.

Thank you for your attention.

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