The UN turns 70 this year. The UN agencies in Ethiopia are preparing for the historic moment to celebrate the achievements of the organisation while recommitting itself to support the country in tackling problems associated with, poverty, education, health, children, refugees, conflict prevention and climate change. As part of the celebration the UN is partnering with the Great Ethiopian Run to stage an annual run with a theme “Unite to create the future we want” in which 40,000 people are expected to participate. The annual running carnival is Africa’s biggest 10km race and it continues to attract more people around the world each year. Representing the UN, George Okutho, United Nations Resident Coordinator (a.i.) speaking today at the launching of Plan International Ethiopia children races and Running for a Cause campaign said, “sport is a vehicle for development and we view our partnership as an important means of getting our message across to a wider audience and hence, encouraging positive change in Ethiopia.”
This year’s children race theme is “I Am A Girl Child Do Not Make Me A Child Mother.” In Ethiopia, one in every five girls and is prevalent across all the regions. In Amhara nearly half of the girls are married before the age of 18.
As announced in June this year Haile Gebreselassie, the legendary long-distance track and road running athlete, will lead 40,000 participants as his last local race at the 15th edition of the Great Ethiopian Run taking place on Sunday 22 November 2015.
“I am running my last race here in Ethiopia and I would like to be a champion for ending a child marriage. In rural areas, the problem is still highly persistent.” Relating to his own life, Haile said, “My mother had me when she was 14 and this has to stop.”
The UN in Ethiopia supports the Great Ethiopian Run annually not only to promote important social messages but also to raise funds to charities. Under the annual official fundraising campaign “Running for a Cause”, the UN and Great Ethiopian Run target to raise 1.4 million birr this year. The fund will be used for social protection and welfare programmes run by local charities that are selected by the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs. The UN also worked with the Great Ethiopian Run to organise regional races in the regional capitals to promote the MDG goals and will continue to promote the new post MDG, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Including high officials from partners, renowned personalities including, Chachi Tadesse, Seleshi Demissie (Gash Abera Molla) and Nibret Gelaw (Eke) stressed the importance of running for a cause and pledged to support the UN, the Great Ethiopian Run and partners in their humanitarian work.