Statement by Ambassador Dr. Gunnar Pálson, Permanent Representative of Iceland
Mr. President, Madam Executive Director, distinguished colleagues,
Allow me to congratulate H.E. Dr. Abdul Momen on his election as President of the Board. I also wish to thank the outgoing President, H. E. Mr. Oumar Daou, for his dedication and good work during the past year.
At the outset, I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere condolences to the people of Haiti in light of the disastrous earthquake yesterday. Following contacts with Haitian officials and relevant coordinating agencies, my Government has already dispatched the Icelandic International Search and Rescue Team to Haiti and the Icelandic Red Cross has initiated fund-raising efforts among the Icelandic public.
The adverse impact of the global financial and economic crisis and a combination of other factors, including climate change, the recent food crisis and the H1N1 influenza pandemic, makes UNICEF’s contribution to development and humanitarian assistance more important than ever. UNICEF plays a unique role as a guardian of the most vulnerable, alleviating the plight of impoverished children and giving them a hope for the future.
Furthermore, the increased attention given by UNICEF to gender equality, including in the areas of education and health, makes the fund an important partner for Iceland in its development efforts.
As we all know, the international financial and economic crisis has taken it’s toll on the national treasuries of countries all over the world, including development budgets. In this regard, my own country is certainly no exception. After years of continued growth, Iceland has been constrained to scale back its development cooperation. Bearing in mind the excellent track record and priorities of UNICEF, an effort has nevertheless been made to safeguard Iceland’s support for the fund.
Therefore, I am pleased to announce that the Government of Iceland will contribute 130 million Icelandic kronur to UNICEF in the year 2010.