Addis Ababa, 13 November 2015 – Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, Honorary Chairperson of UNICEF Belgium travelled to Ethiopia from 9 to 12 November to witness first hand programmes where UNICEF supports the Ethiopian Government in order to achieve results for children, especially in the areas of child survival and girls and women’s empowerment.
On the first day, while visiting Yekatit 12 hospital in Addis-Ababa, the Queen declared: “I am impressed by the commitment of the medical staff, men and women. They provide not only care for babies, they also teach mothers how best to take care of their new-borns. Mothers themselves also receive care. It’s a global approach.” She also stressed the importance of birth registration: “a child who is not registered does not legally exist and cannot be protected.”
Although huge strides have been made, harmful traditional practices still persist in the country. During her visit to Oda Sentela Primary School in Gursum Town, Oromia Region, the Queen could see how UNICEF, through supporting the Government, contributes to the reduction of child marriage and female genital mutilation. While meeting with young school girls, active in awareness raising, she told them, “I am impressed with your work in changing harmful traditions. I strongly encourage you to go on. You will be a model for the next generation.”
While visiting a water supply scheme in Gursum Town, the Queen witnessed how bringing clean water to communities has an enormous social and economic impact. “Not only can girls, who in the past walked many hours to fetch water, attend school and be safer, clean water obviously dramatically improves the community’s health situation,” she said.
Queen Mathilde was moved by the sick children she met on the third day of her visit. But she underlined “I know that through the commitment of the health workers, their situation will improve.”
On her last day, she met with H.E. Dr Mulatu Teshome, President of Ethiopia. Speaking in the name of UNICEF Belgium, the Queen thanked the people of Ethiopia for their warm welcome and encouraged them to continue their efforts in the years to come in order to give each boy and girl a fair chance in life.
See pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/unicefethiopia/albums/72157658825665103