Anthony Lake Message

anthony-lakeDear colleagues,

I wish I could be there with you at the 2011 Conference on Child Rights and Sight. Both the work of your organization – promoting child rights – and the subject of this conference – combating blindness among the world’s most vulnerable children – are of great concern to UNICEF. We are grateful to Distressed Children and Infants International for your leadership in both areas.

Every child has the right to survive and to thrive, but far too many children are deprived of their most fundamental rights and most basic needs. Among the many risks such children face – and one of the most tragic – is blindness. And it is outrageous that it can be produced by such preventable causes as malnutrition or exploitative child labour in the textile industries of some nations. These children already face so many obstacles to realizing their full potential; the loss of their sight makes them even more vulnerable – to deprivation, discrimination and further exploitation and abuse. Worse, it robs them of the chance to make the most of their lives and contribute to their societies, deepening the cycle of poverty and despair.

UNICEF is committed to working to reach these most disadvantaged and marginalized children before it is too late – with nutrition programmes in the critical early years of life to prevent chronic under-nutrition and stunting, with child protection efforts to combat child labour, exploitation and abuse, with other advocacy efforts at the community and national level to address this tragic problem.

So on behalf of UNICEF and the children we serve, I thank you all for everything you are doing to raise awareness about an issue that receives far too little attention. I wish you a very successful conference.

Warm regards,

Anthony Lake,
UNICEF Executive Director