Phnom Penh (FN), Feb. 11 – The United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) signed an agreement with the Royal Government of Cambodia to provide $65 Million for a three-year program support for the most vulnerable Cambodian children that will be implemented in collaboration with the Government, according to a press release issued by UNICEF.

The Programme Action Plan covering the period from 2016 to 2018 was officially signed on Feb.11, at the Ministry of Planning, with the presence of H.E. Chhay Than, Senior Minister, Minister of Planning, representing the Royal Government of Cambodia, and Ms. Debora Comini, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia, said the press release.

The action plan identifies and addresses the key barriers that impede the realization of children’s rights in Cambodia and outlines areas of collaboration for the coming three years. The new country programme consists of four programmatic components: Integrated Early Childhood Survival, Care and Development; Inclusive Quality Education; Child Protection; and Social Inclusion and Governance. The estimated funding requirement for the three-year programme is US$65million, reads the press release.

“Our previous programme of cooperation with UNICEF has contributed to improving the lives of many children and women through the development and enforcement of policies and legislation, as well as improving our systems and service provision,” H.E. Chhay Than was quoted as saying in the press release.

“But we also recognize that many children are still left behind. We are pleased that the new country programme will put more emphasis on the most disadvantaged children, so that more children in Cambodia will have a chance to thrive and grow up to become healthy and productive adults.” he added.

Cambodia has a large number of children and adolescents, with 45 per cent of the total population aged 19 years or younger. 11 per cent are under the age of 5. “While children in Cambodia today are growing up in a time of significant social and economic transformation, the progress is not experienced equally by all,” Debora Comini, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia was quoted as saying in the press release.

“Inequity can be passed down from one generation to another, in an endless cycle that will impact the whole society. That’s why investing in children is the best investment that Cambodia can make for its future.” added Ms. Comini.

UNICEF has been working in Cambodia for decades to promote and protect the rights of children. The organization began its work in the country in 1952, and opened its first country office in Cambodia in 1973.

While operated nationwide, the 2016-2018 UNICEF country programme will focus on provinces, districts and communes with the highest disparities and worst child development indicators to ensure that interventions reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. =FRESH NEWS