Prince Of Norway Visits Cambodia On A UN Mission
Prince Of Norway Visits Cambodia On A Special UN Mission
5 October, Phnom Penh, Cambodia -- Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, who is a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), began a four-day trip to Cambodia today to advocate for bridging the poverty gap in Cambodia. He will talk with garment workers, youth leaders and community members in Phnom Penh, Kampong Chnang and Siem Reap. He will also meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, women parliamentarians, senior government officials and UN representatives.
The Crown Prince chose Cambodia for his trip because it is considered a priority country in need of urgent action in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals – the set of time-bound and quantifiable targets aimed at reducing poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination – agreed to by world leaders in 2000.
“Perhaps the most important question of our time is the question of how the differences between the rich and the poor have become so huge and why we have not yet been able to stop this. But, it is indeed possible to change the situation,” says the Crown Prince, in his role as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador.
“Development is all about people,” said the Crown Prince at a press conference today in Phnom Penh. “It’s up to the Cambodian people to find their way on how to develop their country. Development is a long-term project which unfortunately does not happen over night. It needs to be built stone by stone , day by day. That is why coordination and preparation of the efforts of the Cambodian Government, the UN, the bilateral donors and NGOs is so important. My visit here is only one small part of this effort,” he said.
Included in his trip will be a visit to the QMI factory in Phnom Penh, which has its head office, Quint Major Industrial Co., in Thailand. It was recently visited by actress Minnie Driver, as part of a fair trade campaign. The factory has 8,000 workers, 90 percent of whom are women. During the course of the week, he will also visit community fisheries in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve where he will see community-based natural resource management and conservation efforts. Also included in the field visits, will be participation in a “community conversation” on HIV/AIDS in the Commune of Prek Dak. These gatherings bring communities members together to talk openly about stigma and discrimination, care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Cambodia’s progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals is mixed. Access to primary education has improved over the last decade and HIV prevalence fell from 3.3 percent to 2.6 percent from 1997-2002. But child mortality has risen over the past 10 years and progress on maternal mortality has been limited. The international targets call for reducing child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015. The Cambodia Millennium Development Goals Report released earlier this year says that for those particular goals to be met, decisive action needs to be taken to reduce the high rate of malnutrition, increase the number of trained health workers, improve access to health care, provide adequate funding to the health sector, and strengthen public financial management.
“Bearing in mind Cambodia’s difficult past, it is impressive how far Cambodia has come in such a short time,” said the Crown Prince.
He noted that the Millennium Development Goals are at the core of Norway’s newly developed Action Plan for Combating Poverty, and that the government has taken the goals as its guiding principle in all its development cooperation.