Thailand and UNICEF to cooperate on stateless children

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha pledged that Thailand will work closely with UNICEF to improve care for stateless and migrant children within its borders, during a meeting in Bangkok last week with the organization’s executive director who praised several of the Kingdom’s projects for children.

“We are also ready to share our experiences and learn from other nations,” the Prime Minister said after the meeting with Henrietta Fore, the New York-based head of UNICEF who was visiting Thailand to mark the agency’s 70th year working in the Kingdom.

Fore was appointed executive director of UNICEF at the very end of 2017. She is a former head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and while in the private sector was chief executive officer of Holsman, a manufacturing company.

“I met Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, to highlight the need to provide young people with skills and learning opportunities. I am delighted we share a common vision and sense of urgency for greater investment in young people,’’ Fore tweeted after the meeting.

While in Thailand, the UNICEF chief presented a lifetime achievement award to Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in recognition of her decades of work to better the lives of children in the Kingdom no matter their ethnicity or citizenship status.

“I am both happy and honored to present the UNICEF Award to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for her significant contributions and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children in Thailand,” Fore said while bestowing the award in a ceremony at Chitrlada Palace in Bangkok.

“Each year, Her Royal Highness visits the Border Police Patrol schools annually to advocate for improvement in the quality of education services for stateless and ethnic minority children,’’ Fore said.

Fore took the occasion of her visit to meet with the Prime Minister at Government House, also visiting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government officials. The Prime Minister congratulated her on the 70th anniversary of UNICEF’s work in Thailand.

The executive director praised Thailand’s child development programs, saying the Kingdom has shown its determination to improve the quality of life of the nation’s future generations, according to the National News Bureau of Thailand.

She advocated for continued support for existing child development programs, such as the assistance fund for newborns. Prayut told her that Thailand cares deeply about the rights of children and that his administration has drafted the second national child development strategy.

In recent years, the United Nations has commended Thailand for its improved response to the issues of children’s statelessness and migration. Thailand has granted citizenship to tens of thousands of stateless children in during the past few years.

Fore also had “meetings with business leaders to seek shared-value partnerships with the heads of top corporate houses in the country on the business benefits of investing in children,’’ according to a UNICEF statement.