UNICEF Chief Resigns For Family Health Issue
UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has accepted the resignation of Henrietta Fore as executive director of UNICEF  “with deep regret” and expressed his full understanding of her decision to resign.

Through a statement released by his spokesman on Tuesday, Guterres thanked Fore her “inspiring leadership of UNICEF and for her service to improve the lives of children all around the world”. In particular, he noted UNICEF’s critical role in the global response to Covid-19 and in reimagining education.

“As a result of her leadership, UNICEF is now an organization with a broader array of public and private sector partnerships and a bolder focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. She has also contributed enormously to efforts to build a UN system with a much stronger focus on inclusion and organizational culture. The secretary-general thanks Fore for her outstanding work to address the extraordinary challenges facing children and young people around the world,” the statement added.

Fore, a former head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was appointed to run UNICEF by Guterres in 2018, on Tuesday announced her decision to step down to deal with her husband’s ill health.

“This has been a difficult decision. Serving as your Executive Director has been a tremendous honor. To serve the world’s children is both exhilarating and fascinating. You have achieved remarkable accomplishments at an extraordinary time, and we have so much more to do. I am proud of the work that each of you do and will follow your successes in the years ahead,” said Fore.

Fore’s previous career included running several companies, serving as director of the US Mint from 2001-2005, as U.S. undersecretary of state for management from 2005-2007, and as USAID administrator from 2007-2009 during the administration of then President George W. Bush.

UNICEF has been a key logistics partner in the COVAX, the vaccine-sharing initiative, and it is not immediately clear if Fore’s resignation will affect the COVAX rollout.

She will remain in her post until her successor is appointed. She will in the meantime continue to lead on developing the agency’s Strategic Plan, and also focus on countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines; to help the safe return to classrooms; “and further accelerate our work in both humanitarian and development contexts”, to ensure a “bright future for every child.”

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus  said on Wednesday that it had been an “honour to  work with you for children’s health & rights as well as  #VaccinEquity. Thank you for being an outstanding leader, @unicefchief!”.

UN Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted “Thank you @UNICEFChief Fore for your dedication to protecting and improving the lives of children around the world. The United States is grateful for your leadership, and we send our best wishes to you and your family.”

Image Credits: UNICEF.

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