Press Release

UNFPA Expresses Commitment to NEPAD's Role in Africa's Development

17 September 2002
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York - The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) late on Monday reaffirmed its commitment to the mission and success of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). It also hailed the initiative's crucial role in creating the right conditions for Africa to enjoy social progress, economic growth, environmental protection and respect for human rights.

"When we talk about NEPAD, we are talking about an expression of Africa's own strategic vision," said Thoraya Obaid, UNFPA's Executive Director, as she addressed a high-level panel on NEPAD, during the fifty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The panel featured NEPAD architects, such as Presidents Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. It also included Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmad Maher El Sayed.

Ms. Obaid reaffirmed UNFPA's strong partnership with Africa, where a significant proportion of the Fund's resources is allocated. She also highlighted common grounds between UNFPA and NEPAD, particularly population and development strategies for poverty reduction.

The Executive Director said UNFPA looks forward to the articulation of NEPAD needs in the social sector and expressed her hope that the social agenda will be high on NEPAD's list of priorities. Any visible quick wins in that sector, she said, "would send a positive expression of NEPAD's contribution to the lives of the people and its success in partnership with the international and local communities".

Ms. Obaid also called upon the African leaders to support issues "that appear culturally sensitive but that are, in reality, a matter of life and death". That includes ensuring "that giving birth is a time for joy and not a sentence of death; that reproductive health of women and youth is supported by you personally". Africa suffers from the world's highest rate of maternal deaths, with more than 273,000 women dying during pregnancy and childbirth each year.

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UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance, with programmes in 142 countries. Since it became operational in 1969, the Fund has provided more than $5.6 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development.

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