Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 8, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. And let me start by congratulating you, newly elected Executive Director Russell. And I’d also like to take a moment to commend departing Executive Director Henrietta Fore for her service as ED.
ED Russell, you are taking the helm of UNICEF at a critical moment, when growing global inequities threaten to reverse decades of development and humanitarian progress to protect the world’s most vulnerable children. As we head into the third year of this pandemic, UNICEF’s leadership role on the frontlines of the UN humanitarian response remains as important as ever. Our greatest global challenges – from COVID-19 to climate change, to countless humanitarian crises – often disproportionately affect children.
To start, we need to work together to end this pandemic and restore a measure of normalcy in the lives of children and their families – which is why the United States is proud to be not only UNICEF’s largest annual supporter, but also UNICEF’s largest COVID responder* contributor. As schools finally reopen, we also must pay special attention to the wellbeing of children, especially adolescent girls who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
During my recent trip to Jordan last year, I saw first-hand at the Makani Center the incredible work UNICEF is doing to create safe spaces for refugee children to learn and make friends in their host country**. We have to expand this vital work. Spikes in gender-based violence and early and forced marriage will have far-reaching consequences globally and greatly diminish opportunities for women and girls for generations. We urge UNICEF and Member States to further prioritize protection from sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse, and continue to enhance accountability and emphasize a victim- and survivor-centered approach.
As UNICEF well knows, the climate crisis compromises children’s well-being and contributes to food and water insecurity. Climate change is a threat to international peace and security. It not only threatens our children’s future – it is putting them in danger today. We encourage UNICEF to continue bringing children and youth leaders into the discussion and empowering them to become part of the solution.
Finally, I commend UNICEF for its constant support to countries affected by conflicts, chronic instability, displacement, and other disasters. Let us continue our strong collaboration with UNICEF, and work to improve the quality and efficiency of our humanitarian responses, so together we can protect vulnerable children trapped in humanitarian crises.
The United States stands firmly with UNICEF, and we will do all we can to help you give every child safety, education, nourishment, play, new ideas, and a fair chance.
Thank you very much.