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European Commission

Press release

New York, 4 February 2014

EU and UNICEF boost their partnership to improve child and maternal health and to save more children

Urgent aid to the Central African Republic also discussed at UNICEF Executive Board meeting

The European Union announced today that it has allocated €320 million ($431 million) through UNICEF to improve the health and nutrition of children and women in 15 developing countries and to help speed progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Funding will focus on tackling under-nutrition and infectious diseases, which are among the root causes of child mortality.  Multi-year programmes will focus on improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as quality medical services, health care and adequate nutrition.

The amount represents a 350 per cent increase in development funding from the European Union to UNICEF since 2008.

“Today’s announcement shows what a difference we can make when we work together, and our partnership with UNICEF will help us reach even more of the people who most need our help,” European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs told the UNICEF Executive Board in New York. “Much remains to be done before the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs and these projects will help us build on the achievements made so far."

While child mortality rates have declined from an estimated 12.6 million in 1990 to approximately 6.6 million in 2012, around 18,000 children still die of preventable diseases each day.  At current trends, the world will not meet Millennium Development Goal 4 – to cut the rate of under-five mortality by two-thirds – until 2028.  

The €320 million in funding agreements – signed with 15 UNICEF country offices in 2013 – is part of the EU’s MDG-initiative and the 10th European Development Fund, which aims to accelerate progress towards meeting the most off-track goals.  UNICEF and the EU, in cooperation with partner countries and civil societies, will scale up interventions that reduce child mortality and strengthen maternal and pre-natal health.

Huge unmet needs in Central African Republic

At the Executive Board, Commissioner Piebalgs and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake also discussed the crisis in the Central African Republic, where Mr. Lake spent four days in January.  

“Children in the Central African Republic desperately need protection and support. They are under assault and being killed in brutal, senseless communal violence, and there is an almost total absence of protection for children,” Mr. Lake said. “For the sake of the children, for the sake of the whole country, we all must urgently scale up our work there.”

Last week, the EU pledged an additional €25 million ($33.7 million) to the African Union-led operation in the Central African Republic, (Mission internationale de soutien à la Centrafrique sous conduite africaine, or MISCA) at a Donors' Conference in Ethiopia. The MISCA support mission is a cornerstone for creating the conditions needed for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reform of the security sector.

The EU has pledged around €200 million ($269.6 million) since the onset of the crisis in the Central African Republic, including support for immediate relief, longer term development projects, stabilisation efforts and support to the electoral process – a clear indication that the EU is committed to helping the people of the Central African Republic.


All of the countries receiving funds are based in Africa with the exception Timor-Leste.  The countries include Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

Photos of the event will be available at:

MEMO/14/73: Factsheet on EU – UNICEF COOPERATION

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Maria Sanchez Aponte (+32 2 298 10 35)

Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York; (+1 917 378 2128)

Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Geneva (+1 917 588 9596)

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