Remarks By H.E. Ambassador Ferit Hoxha, Permanent Representative of Albania to the United Nations, on behalf of the Members of the Delegation of the Executive Board of UNICEF in Visit to Sudan

From 27 April to 2 May 2014, a delegation from UNICEF’s Executive Board, comprising delegates from Albania, Denmark, Djibouti and the Netherlands paid a visit to Khartoum, Northern State and North Darfur, with the objective to see and experience UNICEF’s Country Program of Cooperation with the Government of Sudan, discuss the impact and results of UNICEF work with government and non-government counterparts at national, local and community levels within the broad context of the national development priorities, the UNDAF and other relevant development assistance frameworks. The UNICEF program, covering 2013-2016, is designed to foster sustainable improvement in the lives of all children in Sudan.

Here are the remarks delivered by H.E. Ambassador Ferit Hoxha, Permanent Representative of Albania to the UN, on behalf of the delegation, at a joint press release with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the National Council of Child Welfare of Sudan.


-          Thank you for this opportunity to engage with the media regarding the findings of our visit here. It is always important to talk to you and through you to the large public. 


-          The delegation wishes to thank the authorities of Sudan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in particular, for the fruitful cooperation in preparing the program of the visit of the Board as well as for the welcome and hospitality shown to the delegation;


-          We are pleased to have had fruitful meetings with various Ministers and other senior level representatives at federal Government and of the States visited, which has helped us to have a better understanding of both the efforts made and the many problems that children still face in Sudan.


-          We take note with pleasure of the high appreciation at all levels, of the work of UNICEF in Sudan by Federal and State authorities. We welcome the good level of cooperation between the Government and UNICEF and highlight the need for further closer cooperation, including by granting quick and unhindered access to Unicef teams in all areas where they need to operate in support of children of Sudan. 


-          We welcome achievements by the government, state and local authorities as well as other non state actors, NGOs and other stakeholder in responding to the needs and priorities of the children in various fields, including in particular the increase in the education enrollment over the last years and the immunization process. Nevertheless, multiple challenges and shortcomings continue to prevail and more efforts need to be done.


-          Good quality education is a vital prerequisite for a better and more developed society. The number of children dropping out of school remains exceptionally high and more and better, diversified and coordinated efforts need to be made to curb this problem, including in humanitarian situations. 


-          Too many children in Sudan are still not benefitting from basic social and protection services and, as we have learned during our visit, lack of proper investment or of sufficient budget allocation are also among the causes. The under five mortality rate remains unacceptably high also due to the situation of malnutrition in various parts of the country, and access to sanitation facilities is very low. While benefiting from the assistance of the international community, the Government should make its own efforts to properly address these issues.


-          The adoption of the Federal Child Act constitutes a major effort to bring national legislation in line with the Conventions for the Rights of the Child. We support the ongoing work by the National Council for Child Welfare in establishing a regulatory and policy framework to give effect to the law. We encourage the Government to sign and ratify all other relevant instruments on child protection, including the third Optional protocol to the CRC on a Communication Procedure


-          We were particularly pleased with progress made so far in the process of abandonment of female genital mutilation (FGM/C) mainly through the Saleema project. This is a testimony that strong commitment and genuine efforts do yield results. Yet these results remain fragile and can be threatened if not properly pursued and supported. Therefore, a more vigorous support at the Federal level as well as by religious leaders and other moral authorities is a must to ensure a wider awareness and make the change, a change of magnitude. Girls are born Saleema; they should remain Saleema


-          Conflicts and instability severely affect the situation of children. We all know that children and women are the first innocent victims of any conflict or war. A large portion of the population has been displaced and lives in camps with limited access to health and other services. This country has seen too much war, too much instability and the price children have been paying is already very high. The country and its nation need and deserve a future based on peace by all and for all, on development and sustainable progress. The experience of other countries has shown that real progress starts by investing in children and youth, by providing the necessary services for their well-being and upbringing, by protecting and ensuring their rights and their development. It applies to Sudan as well, even more so as 50 per cent of its population is under 18 years old.


-          UNICEF has a long and successful commitment and experience in helping the children of Sudan. Circumstances in the country have made it so that most of it has been devoted to emergency or humanitarian assistance. It is time to go beyond, invest for development. This is what we heard repeatedly in our meetings here. For it to happen all conflicts must be put to an end, the national dialogue should be pursued vigorously and include all stakeholders, the Doha Document for Peace should be implemented and the country should clearly chart its future development path. This is what children ask for and this is what they deserve.


-          We will inform the Executive Board on the findings of our visit, of the request of the Sudanese authorities for more engagement and funding, including of the need to shift from humanitarian to development assistance and the commitment of the Government to do its part for it to happen. We are here in an effort to help the children of Sudan and we will do our best to this effect.


-          Thank you.

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