Thank you Mr President.
I would like to thank the Executive Director for his very comprehensive statement, that shows the Fund’s positive progress according to the Strategic Plan.
I wish to express my country’s gratitude to UNICEF for helping millions of children all over the world to overcome the immense difficulties they face every day, enabling them to eventually become the first actors of development.
In a world of constant emergencies, children are among those who suffer the most. Every day we see in the news the deadly toll that the refugee and migrant crisis in the Mediterranean sea have taken on children, so close to the Italian shores. In this regard, I would like to mention the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian Ministry of Interior and UNICEF, with a view to ensuring collaboration between the Italian authorities and the Fund in order to help guarantee the rights of unaccompanied minor migrants.
We commend UNICEF for the positive outcomes of the Strategic Plan’s midterm review. However, we are aware of the many remaining challenges and of the need of stepping up the response, especially considering the migration crisis that I have just mentioned. For this reason, Italy has increased its voluntary contribution to UNICEF’s core resources by 38 % in 2016. We strongly believe that contributing to the Fund’s general budget is key for ensuring its ability to operate smoothly and effectively.
Italy will also additionally contribute to the specific core activities of the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in Florence. Let me express my country’s strong appreciation for the commendable work of this Centre as well as for the overall strengthening of research governance across UNICEF, also as a result of the work done in Florence.
I would also like to put the due emphasis on the Fund’s human resources, who truly are the bedrock of the organization. Italy is proud to contribute through the Italian JPO and Fellowship Programmes.
Finally, we are very supportive of UNICEF’s gender action plan and we welcome a further expansion of the Fund’s activities in this key sector. Italy is a steadfast supporter of UNFPA-UNICEF’s Joint Programme against Female Genital Mutilation, to which this year we have increased our contribution by 20 %. According to statistics, about 200 million women and young girls in thirty countries have undergone female genital mutilation and are suffering from the dire consequences associated with this practice, which is harmful to women’s health and perpetrates inequality.
Let me reaffirm Italy’s firm commitment to working with UNICEF day by day and our sincere appreciation to the Executive Director and the Fund’s staff for their painstaking work.