MRS. JEWEL HOWARD-TAYLOR
FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
CHAIRPERSON OF THE DELEGATION OF LIBERIA
THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION ON CHILDREN CAMPAIGN 2002 "SAY YES FOR CHILDREN"
MR. SECRETARY GENERAL;
MR. PRESIDING PRESIDENT;
CHILDREN OF THE WORLD,
ALL PROTOCOLS OBSERVED.
I am pleased to present esteemed congratulations to this August Body, on behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of Liberia, and the Official Liberian Delegation, for finally hosting this Extraordinary Session on the Future of Our Children. May I extend Our sincere appreciation to the United Nations System, especially to UNICEF, for their support in assisting Liberia in all of its national Program efforts, which aim at improving the total situation of, and environment for the Liberian Child, as we too " SAY YES FOR CHILDREN".
This is indeed an honor, for our participation here reiterates the full commitment of our Government and National Leaders in contributing meaningfully to the Global Movement of concerted action on behalf of our world children, for which We are humbly pleased.
Liberia's participation today, is not in response to its' political obligation as part of the Global Village, but out of a realization and moral conviction that " without providing an environment for our children to achieve their fullest potentials, we would be negligent in our duties and obligations as Leaders". It is within this context that the Liberian Government has achieved the following:
1. Ratification and Promotion of the Convention on the Rights of Children, especially the Girl Child;
2. Full immunization of all Liberian Children, thus nearing the goal of total eradication of Polio in Liberia,
3. Established the Ministry of Gender and Development, thus setting the stage for full implementation of a National Program of Action for Children 2001-2015.
To pursue appropriate policies and action plans which impact positively
upon the Liberian child, the Government and National Leaders are engaged
in dialogue, and cooperation in the implementation of Capacity Building
programs for war affected children, including and not limited to advocacy
and treatment of HIV-AIDS.
For us in Liberia, the Global Movement is one that urgently calls us to serious action with real significance, especially since our nation is reported to maintain some ofthe lowest indicators ofhealth and well being. With increasingly high levels of illiteracy, infant mortality, and malnutrition. The situation of our youthful population is further marred, by inaccessibility to basic life necessities such as safe drinking water and sanitation, including lack of access to basic primary education in the rural areas, especially those areas affected by the war, and recurrent dissident attacks.
The situation of the Liberian Child, is becoming increasingly compromised, due to the inability of the Liberian Government to focus attention on ongoing programs which should impact positively, the lives of our children. Obstacles to further progress on behalf of our children include:
. Continued dissident activities in Western and Northwestern Liberia, which continues to propel the forced displacement of women and children, with children remaining the largest percentage of the displaced populations.
. The lack of steady and significant support to the national development agenda, preventing improvements in the segments of health and education.
. The national sate of high indebtedness, and especially the inability to repay age-old debts and loans, which has led to increased general poverty among the population. If this issue of the inability of Liberia, and other African Nations to repay their debts is not addressed as a priority concern for peace and stability, and eventual progress, our efforts towards concerted action on behalf of our children will be meaningless propaganda.
. The state of poverty especially of the rural poor in Liberia, as in other third world nations, remains very precarious due to the inability of families to adequately feed their children as a result of the prolonged and continued disruption in agricultural activities.
. The insensitive attitude of some states to the humanitarian plight of Liberia, whose innocent children are victimized by the continued sanctions against our peace loving people. " Are We Not Our Brothers Keepers ?"
Liberia, the former champion for the cause of peace and democracy on the African Continent and in the World, now stands Naked before you, appealing to the deep recesses of your individual and collective consciousness; pleading that the United Nations lifts its sanctions on Liberia, for the sanctions have only serve to increase the suffering of our war weary people and children.
For although we are constrained and somewhat inhibited in our commitment to insuring the success of this campaign at home, and to contribute meaningfully to the activities abroad, our total support for its attainment remains unwavering.
I am saddened by the sorrows of our orphaned children, forced into adult responsibilities, prostitution and bitter waywardness. I am more perplexed by our failing and increasing inability to meet the dire and basic needs of our war affected children, and to prepare for them a legacy for tomorrow leadership.
It is on their behalf that I stand here before you, pleading that THE UNITED NATIONS strengthens the ability of our Governments and People of the Nations here represented, to " Place Our children First"; for alone, we have nothing on which to lean. Our individual and collective difficulties have reach such an alarming level that we are compelled to appeal to The Moral reasoning of this noble Institution of humanidnd, to place the safety, well being and happiness of manldnd, especially of our children, first above all other political concerns.
I sincerely pray, that we together seize this historic opportunity to undo the "BROKEN PROMISES" of our inactive years and unfulfilled goals. Let us make this a renewed opportunity to change our world for the betterment of our children. And May We begin this new era on behalf of each and every child, accepting a global ethical challenge of " Living for the greater good of all", thereby insuring that " no child will be left behind".
MAY THE LOVE OF OUR CHILDREN KEEP US STRONG, FIRM AND STEADFAST, AND MAY GOD GRANT US HIS PEACE.