New York, 08 September, 2015
At the UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi called for urgent action to deal with the growing crisis of forced migration, pointing out that half the world's refugees today are children.
She was speaking as President of the UNICEF's Executive Board in its second regular session.
In the opening statement to the session, Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN, made an impassioned plea to the world community to live up to its responsibility to address desperate situations in which children were the principal and tragic victims.
Of these, she said, the global refugee crisis was the "most horrific". She described this as a humanitarian catastrophe in which the suffering of children was unprecedented.
She recalled that just last week the harrowing and heart breaking image of a three year old toddler lying dead on a beach after his parents’ desperate flight from conflict had reverberated across the world. This, she added, should shake the international community’s collective conscience and prompt urgent action.
Describing UNICEF’s Executive Board Session as momentous, Ambassador Lodhi said that this was taking place on the cusp of a historic milestone: the adoption of the United Nations post-2015 development agenda at the Sustainable Development Summit later this month.
She said that the Post-2015 agenda, with its 17 sustainable development goals and 169 targets for the year 2030, seeks to end extreme poverty, equitably promote prosperity and well-being for the world’s peoples, and protect the environment for ourselves and future generations. “It is the most ambitious human endeavor of its kind, transformative in its goals and in its envisaged implementation”, she added.
Ambassador Lodhi told delegates this was “our chance to make history.” The post-2015 agenda proves to the world once again that “we, in the United Nations do more than talk.”
She asserted that in crafting the post-2015 agenda member states had set aside their differences to reach consensus on a shared vision of human progress – for themselves and future generations. And “we have proven that we are ready to take decisive, collaborative action to make that vision a reality.”
Dr Lodhi recalled that it had been said many times before that the poor will always be with us. But she said for the first time in history this assumption is being challenged. It is being challenged through the SDGs and post-2015 agenda.
This new agenda, she said, would require changing old ways of doing business and embracing innovation. “It will require reaching every child, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable”, she added.
Ambassador Lodhi noted with concern that too many emergencies were grossly underfunded and pressed for urgent attention. She said that funding of UNICEF was not keeping pace with the demands placed on the organization by burgeoning emergencies.