UNICEF, Azerbaijan mark 20th anniversary of cooperation

By Nazrin Gadimova

The State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs jointly with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) held an event called "Unite for Children", dedicated to the 20th anniversary of UNICEF's cooperation with Azerbaijan, on July 2.

An overview of the Country Program of cooperation between the government of Azerbaijan and UNICEF was considered at the event.

Representatives of relevant ministries, civil society, UN agencies and diplomatic missions attended the meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister Elchin Efendiyev.

Speaking at the event, Efendiyev said that the problems of children in the world are the most important humanitarian issues.

"The problem of children in Azerbaijan is one of the most important ones, because there are more than 1.3 million refugees and internally displaced persons and some of them are children," Efendiyev said. "Therefore, protecting the rights of the children, shaping them as worthy citizens and ensuring quality education for them is one of the important areas."

Efendiyev said that in recent years the attention of Azerbaijan's First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva to children's issues has led to a further increase of efforts in this regard. Important projects on the intellectual development of children and their healthy growth are being implemented in the country at the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.

"Azerbaijan pays special attention to the strengthening of the relations with international organizations, particularly UNICEF, for solving these problems. Azerbaijan has conducted important researches in conjunction with UNICEF over 20 years and these projects will be continued in the future."

According to Efendiyev, the country has implemented more than 30 government programs on children's issues.

"These programs are very important for the formation and implementation of a unified state child policy. The concept "Azerbaijan 2020: Vision of the Future", which was approved by the decree of the President of Azerbaijan, pays special attention to the issue," the deputy prime minister said.

Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs Hijran Huseynova said that the economic development of Azerbaijan and its political influence has led to close cooperation with international organizations.

"Azerbaijan is a close partner of a number of international organizations, including UNICEF. The cooperation contributes to the implementation of important projects related to the development of children and gives a boost to sharing experiences. Currently our cooperation with UNICEF will focus on successful development of children and protection of their interests," Huseynova said.

The meeting was also attended by Deputy Director of UNICEF Programs Division Susana Sottoli.

Sottoli appreciated the joint activity between Azerbaijan and UNICEF. She said that whereas earlier Azerbaijan was using the experience of international organizations, today it shares its own experience with other countries.

Azerbaijani Education Minister Mikayil Jabbarov, Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov and other government officials also attended the event and spoke about the achievements made in the area of cooperation with UNICEF.