By Halimatou Ceesay
The newly appointed United Nations Population Fund’s resident representative to the Gambia has expressed his commitments to reducing maternal deaths to zero in the small West African country.
Kunle Adeniyi said UNFPA has been in the Gambia for 45 years and has been given a very conducive environment to do their work in the country.
Presenting his credentials to the minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Kunle said UNFPA will continue with its proud record of working in many key areas including reducing maternal death, gender-based violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and ensuring that every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
He added that the Gambia Government has seen the good work UNFPA is doing in the country and because of that it has requested for a full representation status of UNFPA in the Gambia.
He said the request is granted earlier this year prompting his appointment as the first UNFPA Representative Resident in the Gambia.
“In the last 20 years, UNFPA has cut down maternal deaths to half in the Gambia, gender-based violence and the unmet need for Family Planning for women and young people to be able to decide on their sexuality and how often they want to have children and at the right time,” he said.
Mr Kunle added: “We worked very hard to advocate and influence laws on women’s rights, criminalizing FGM and child marriage among other laws in the Gambia. We are here to support the government and people of the Gambia. We are here to stay and will continue to ensure that the SDG’s are attained.”
He said his organization will be receiving the youth envoy of the UN Secretary General in the Gambia for two days, who will look at the programs for youths in the Gambia. He added as part of the visit, the envoy will also meet with government officials, young people and other stakeholders to see the good work that has been done in the areas of youth in the Gambia and will take along with him some of the concerns and challenges youths are faced with to the Secretary General at the global level.
Ousainou Darboe, minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed the government’s appreciation of UNFPA’s engagement in the Gambia and that their partnership in the promotion of youth and women wellbeing
He said the government regards youths as its greatest assets and is putting all its efforts to improve their life opportunities.
“We want to reduce maternal death to zero in the Gambia and the government is committed to that. We all want to make sure that the goals set in the SDG’s are attained. Our doors will always be open to you because we want to be pragmatic in our approach,” he said.
Mr Darboe welcomed Kunle’s appointment and assured him that his tenure will be fruitful while enjoining him to lay down a foundation in the Gambian perspective in achieving his goals.