New UNICEF head promises results not rhetoric benefits not banalities

“I come to this position with a deep and abiding belief in the missions and work of UNICEF,” United States Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman told a news briefing at which she was introduced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to succeed Carol Bellamy as the Executive Director of the 58-year-old agency. She will take over on 1 May.“Her qualifications are outstanding,” Mr. Annan said of Ms. Veneman, who has administered the vast and complex operations of the US Department of Agriculture since 2001.“She has focused strongly on new ways of feeding the hungry around the world, thus making an important contribution to the first of the eight Millennium Goals, and she has been a long and steadfast supporter of programmes to advance the welfare of children both at home and abroad,” he added, referring to the target of halving hunger by 2015.“Ms. Veneman’s extensive experience, as well as her personal commitment to UNICEF’s values and mission, make her an eminently suitable person to lead UNICEF,” he said.With more than 7,000 people working in 157 countries, the agency is the world’s leading body addressing the needs of youngsters, ranging from running massive child immunization campaigns to mobilizing urgent aid in unexpected emergencies such as last month’s devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.Mr. Annan paid tribute to Ms. Bellamy’s “outstanding contribution” over the past 10 years to the UN, UNICEF and welfare of children all over the world. “Carol’s record speaks for itself,” he declared. “She has led UNICEF into the 21st century with exemplary skill, determination and conviction, facing numerous challenges along the way. Her legacy must inspire us all as I am sure it will inspire Ann to do everything we can to make the world a safer, better place for children everywhere.”Ms. Veneman said the plight of children around the world is enormous. “Children today must face issues that no child, no human being should have to confront – malnutrition and hunger, illiteracy and disease, especially the scourge of HIV/AIDS, exploitation and suffering, wars and natural disasters,” she declared. “The challenges are imposing, but there is also a vast reservoir of will to solve them. I am committed to tapping into that potential.” Video of press briefing [14mins]

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