UNICEF advancing child priorities Africa-wide through African Union

Published October 14th, 2009 - 01:32 GMT

AU) is crucial for the advancement of priorities for children in Africa,
said El Hadj As Sy, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern
Africa (ESA), while on a visit to the AU and the United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa (UNECA) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from
28 September to 3 October 2009. He said this to key AU officials on behalf
of three Africa Regional Directors from West and Central Africa, Middle
East and North Africa, and ESA.

“It is pertinent for us to demonstrate our serious commitment and
collaboration, working with the AU as an entry point into value-added
continental level policy advocacy, implementation and engagement with
political leaders for the benefit of children,” said Mr. Sy, who was in
Addis Ababa to re-energize UNICEF’s commitment and sustained partnership
with the AU and its Member States, UN sister agencies, partners and
regional NGO’s promoting child rights in Africa.

Mr. Sy highlighted the need to build on already existing AU instruments, as
well as enhance partnerships with regional economic communities and
institutions, so as to tap into Africa’s huge potential and opportunities
to improve the lives of children. “These are our institutions and we need
to respect, value and work through them,” he stressed. He reiterated
UNICEF’s commitment to deepen its engagement in areas that needed technical
assistance, and focus on translating child policies into action.

Mr. Sy raised concern about the millions of children in Africa who are
almost permanently living in crisis, and called for enhanced effort to
respond to their special needs. “In this regard, UNICEF and the AU need to
engage in fewer strategic activities that have a high impact on children,”
he emphasized.

“The AU shares common values with UNICEF and hence the need to address
continental challenges together by developing joint strategic and concrete
actions on areas of mutual interest,” said H.E. Prof. Jean Pierre Onvehoun
Ezin, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, on behalf
of H.E Mr. Erastus J.O Mwencha, Deputy Chair of the AU Commission.

“The AU is a credible institution and leadership standards have been
consistently high, and more and more people today believe in it,” said H.E
Abdoullie Janneh, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive
Secretary of UNECA. “We seek UNICEF’s leadership to help build on gains
that have already been realized among African children,” H.E Janneh added.

“The establishment of the UNICEF Liaison Office, headed by a senior
colleague, Mrs. Akila Belembaogo, to serve as our Special Representative to
the AU and UNECA, is an illustration of the importance UNICEF attaches to
regional cooperation,” Mr. Sy concluded.

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