I thank you, Mr. President. Great to see you in the chair!
I warmly congratulate you and other members of the Bureau on your election.
I would like to start by warmly congratulating Ms. Catherine Russell on her appointment as the Executive Secretary. UNICEF is very special to Bangladesh; and we look forward to continuing that special relations under her leadership.
Madam Executive Director, I thank you for sharing your vision; and I am happy to see that we share many of your priorities, especially for children in difficult situation, and those left furthest behind.
With the limited time that we have, allow me to highlight a few reflections and priorities:
First, we commend UNICEF’s vital role in scaling up distribution of COVID vaccines through COVAX, especially its efforts to ensure vaccines equality in low-coverage African countries. However, we wish to reiterate that this new imperative should not impact UNICEF’s regular services in any manner. UNICEF’s signature programmes for children, especially the routine immunization must continue with the same scale and urgency.
We would like to know of your plans to mobilize resources for tackling the impacts of the pandemic on your regular services, while fulfilling your responsibilities with regard to distribution of COVID vaccines.
Second, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education is a generational catastrophe. The children in the countries of the global south are the hardest hit due to lack of access to online education and distance learning platforms.
Against this backdrop, the Secretary General’s report ‘Our Common Agenda’ calls for a global “Digital Compact” with an ambitious target to “connect all people to the internet, including all schools”.
You have shared in detail about your plans to scale up successful initiatives such as GIGA; and we would like to see those pursued with utmost priority.
Third, as the Chair of Peacebuilding Commission for 2022, Bangladesh attaches high priority to the enhanced engagements of the PBC with Funds and Programs. We are aware of UNICEF’s important work for children in conflict affected contexts, which makes it one of the largest recipients of the Peacebuilding Fund.
How can the PBC collaborate more with the UNICEF within its mandate to support UNICEF’s work for children in the peacebuilding context?
Finally, how do you plan to ensure maximum synergies of UNICEF’s Strategic Plan with national priorities to put children at the center of national response and recovery efforts from the pandemic.
I thank you, Mr. President. I wish you a very productive first session of the year.