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UNICEF Regional Director Kastberg visits Haiti

UNICEF Regional Director Nils Kastberg visits Haiti

“We have to do our best to achieve free and universal education for all children in Haiti.”

The UNICEF Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean Region, Mr. Nils Kastberg, ended today his two-day visit in Haiti. Nils Kastberg co-chaired along with the Minister of Planning and External Cooperation, a high level meeting on the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the five year plan of collaboration between UNICEF and the government of Haiti. In addition, Mr. Kastberg and the national authorities officially launched today the State of the World Children Report 2005 in Cité Soleil, one of the most impoverished areas in the capital Port-au-Prince.

While addressing participants of the MTR meeting, Mr. Kastberg stressed the importance of a good partnership between the Government, organisations of bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as the civil society. “We are utterly committed to working with you in order to take up the challenges facing the children of Haiti”, said Nils Kastberg. “We should be able to reduce acute malnutrition within five years and attain the objective of education for all in 2015. All we need is to work together hand in hand with clear objectives and common strategies.” With regard to HIV/AIDS, Mr. Kastberg called upon all Haitians to learn from countries such as South Africa and Swaziland where the prevalence rate has sky rocked within a few years time. “We can never warn enough about HIV/AIDS.”

According to the Regional Director who also met with the President of the Republic of Haiti, Mr. Boniface Alexandre, “all of us should reflect in our work what we want to do for Haitian children and how we can achieve it”. He welcomed the drafting of a Child National Code, which will be adopted soon, as an important element in the establishment of a protective environment for children. “It is the ultimate protection framework for the rights of children, above all for the most vulnerable ones”, stressed Mr. Kastberg.

The MTR of the Programme of Cooperation between UNICEF and the government of Haiti for 2002 to 2006, which took place on 21 February 2005 in Port-au-Prince, enabled the Government, UNICEF and partners to evaluate the results attained and the lessons learnt from the last three years and to better direct future intervention in the light of the current socio-political context as well as the situation of women and children. All indicators in Haiti have been continuously in decline due to the political crisis and natural disasters that have hit the country in 2004. The living conditions of many families have worsened. Access to basic health services, nutrition, and education is affected and the child protection mechanisms have weakened.

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