December 4, 2001 - United Nations: Press briefing by the UN offices for Pakistan and Afghanistan by Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF

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By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - 1:29 pm: Edit Post

Press briefing by the UN offices for Pakistan and Afghanistan by Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF

Press briefing by the UN offices for Pakistan and Afghanistan by Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF

Press briefing by the UN offices for Pakistan and Afghanistan by Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF

Thank you and good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be here again.

As many of you know, I am just completing a five-day visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I'd like to share with you a few of my observations and the priorities I see for UNICEF in this evolving crisis. Then I'd be happy to take your questions.

Before I begin I'd like to thank the government of Pakistan, which was my host for most of the past few days. I welcomed the opportunity to meet with a number of ministers to talk about children in Pakistan, and of course about the millions of refugees here and the strain they have put on host communities. UNICEF enjoys a strong relationship with the government and I believe it will be even more so as we continue to work together to help all children in the country.

During my stay I've had opportunities to visit Kabul, a number of refugee sites in the Northwest Frontier Province, and Quetta, where the UNICEF office was destroyed by rioters in October.

Everything I saw and heard can be summed up in two primary points: First, that children and women must be at the heart of Afghanistan's long-term recovery. And second, that while we plan for that long-term recovery, we cannot overlook the ongoing struggle for survival facing millions of Afghans this winter.

First, the long-term. It is very clear to me that women will be key to recovery for a number of reasons. For example, I visited a home-based school, supported by UNICEF, which originally was established to educate girls -- who of course had been banned from the public schools. But I was surprised to find almost as many boys in the home school as girls.

I shouldn't have been. Women make up 75% of all teachers in Afghanistan. When women were banned from working, the entire school system was crippled. Parents who wanted their sons to get an education often had no alternative but the home schools. UNICEF counts more than 400 home schools in Kabul alone. The women who manage them will be absolutely essential to the recovery of education in Afghanistan - and that means they must be paid a decent wage and supported in their work.

Similarly, when I attended a landmine education program for children managed by Save the Children (with UNICEF's support), I learned that until recently landmine awareness was only available in mosques - meaning that girls and women in affected communities did not get this life-saving information.

I'm glad that this is changing, but we must continue to ensure that women and girls remain free to fully participate in the business of society.

Nothing spoke this message more clearly than a meeting I had with 30 women who had volunteered for UNICEF as what we call "social mobilisers." These are people who promote child immunization among their neighbours, share health information with women, and take part in similar kinds of community service.

Among these 30 women were several doctors, several lawyers, a former Supreme Court justice, teachers, psychologists - the list goes on. These women and tens of thousands like them represent an incredible resource, one that has been shamefully disused and disrespected in recent years. It is absolutely essential that this change if Afghanistan is to have a chance at lasting peace.

For all these reasons, UNICEF will work closely with women and women's groups as we pursue the rehabilitation of education and healthcare - our two key priorities for the children of Afghanistan. In one small example, we have committed ourselves to providing teaching supplies and other support to all informal schools in the Kabul area in the next six weeks. Whatever they need to keep education going and expand learning in the interim until public education re-opens next spring.

But as I said, we have an even more immediate priority, and that is keeping children and women alive this winter. In the last two days UNICEF moved relief supplies into Afghanistan from Quetta, Peshawar, Uzbekistan. And we will continue that effort. And that goes for the refugees in Iran and Pakistan, as well, who obviously symbolize the ongoing humanitarian crisis within Afghanistan.

But clearly security on the ground continues to hinder access to the displaced and others in need. The lives of tens of thousands of Afghan children are at stake. UNICEF does not have all the answers, but we cannot remain silent about the threat we see to child survival.

Finally, let me emphasize something I said when I arrived here last week: Children are the crucible of a peaceful future for Afghanistan. I cannot imagine a stable, successful future that is not built upon universal education for children, decent quality healthcare for all women and children, and the right of women and children to take part in society.

Investment in these basics must be immediate, thorough and lasting. Whatever government comes into effect in Afghanistan in the immediate term, it must make investment in children and women a top priority.

Thank you. I'll be happy to take your questions.

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Story Source: United Nations

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Peace Corps Directors - Bellamy; COS - Afghanistan; COS - Pakistan



By Anonymous on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - 4:21 pm: Edit Post

Tortured prisoners in Cuba, spies in the military, and abused children. Red Cross and uni(UN)cef screaming for more money? Could this be the problem?

By shakeel ( on Monday, February 25, 2008 - 6:55 am: Edit Post

Dear Brother Salam-O-Aliekum

How are you.Brother I am having much problems in my life due to jobless condition I am not able to pay my house rent,utility bills,kichen needs,children schooling and my health problems and my wife's artificial leg which need replacement or repair because she is in much pain.I am not able to provide my children 3 time food.
Brother kindly help me in this hard time through job or source of Zakat.
Allah bless on you always.
yours brother
Shakeel hussain
Sialkot city
mobile no

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