Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received a courtesy call from the newly appointed UNICEF Representative for Pacific Island Countries, Mr. Jonathan Veitch this morning.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Bainimarama congratulated Mr. Veitch on his new appointment and he reaffirmed the Fijian Government’s commitment to work closely with the UNICEF Pacific Office to elevate engagement.
Prime Minister Bainimarama acknowledged UNICEF’s remarkable contributions to Fiji and the region, demonstrated by the number of UNICEF-supported programmes across various sectors including health, education, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene.
UNICEF Pacific has also been instrumental in mobilising assistance for children and communities in the aftermath of natural disasters and working with Government to provide technical assistance. 
The Prime Minister acknowledged UNICEF’s continued support for Fiji’s implementation of its obligations as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
He also conveyed his appreciation to UNICEF for the swift assistance in the procurement and delivery of vaccines to the Pacific through the COVAX Facility as well as support to development of COVID-19 vaccine training materials and training of health workers.
The Prime Minister said the ongoing partnership between Fiji and UNICEF is even more critical now, as the region comes together to respond to the multi-dimensional impacts of COVID-19 and other global challenges. 
He extended the Fijian Government’s best wishes to Mr. Veitch as he assumes his new role and assured the UNICEF Pacific Representative of Fiji’s commitment to strengthen collaboration to achieve an inclusive and resilient recovery for the region and empowerment of children and their wellbeing.
Reflecting on COP26, Prime Minister Bainimarama stated that it was pleasing to participate alongside young climate leaders at the global climate conference in Glasgow, while emphasising the important role young people have towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda.
While confirming his participation at the first Global Forum on Children and Youth, hosted next month by UNICEF, Prime Minister Bainimarama said the event would draw the global attention on urgent needs of children and young people, and strengthen collaboration to collectively address the challenges, facing them.
Mr. Veitch thanked the Fijian Government as well as other Pacific Island governments for supporting UNICEF’s work in the region, and for giving priority to the promotion of children’s rights.
He said UNICEF stands ready to further support the Fijian Government’s leadership in its ongoing response plans for COVID-19.
“With the successful vaccination rate and campaign on how to be safe and protected, no effort should be spared to reopen schools safely, as schools are critical for children’s learning, safety, health, and well-being. We thank the Fijian Government for putting education and reopening of schools at the top of the COVID-19 recovery agenda,” Mr. Veitch said.
“The goal for all children in the Pacific to be able to enjoy their rights cannot be achieved in isolation. We will continue to work together to strengthen this partnership with the Fijian Government to ensure that we are able to provide the best future for our leaders of tomorrow – the children,” he added. 
The UNICEF Pacific Representative has congratulated the Fijian Government on advancing the Convention on the Rights of the Child through the recent passing of the Climate Change Act 2021, Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Amendment) Act 2021 and the Registration of Sex Offenders Act 2021, all of which bear significant importance for children’s rights in Fiji. 
To date, Fiji has received a total of 309,280 doses via COVAX, including 100 per cent of their allocated doses to cover 20 per cent of the population, as well as dose-sharing vaccines through the COVAX Facility from the Government of the United States, Government of Japan and the Government of New Zealand.
UNICEF and WHO have been supporting the Ministry of Health and Medical Services on communication and community engagement for the COVID-19 pandemic response to increase demand for COVID-19 vaccines while tackling misinformation on vaccines. UNICEF has also been working to provide essential medical equipment and supplies, guidance on reopening of schools, and support to address water, sanitation and hygiene needs, child protection, mental well-being, nutrition as well as important communication messaging on keeping safe during the pandemic.
UNICEF is working closely with the Government Ministries and other partners, including development partners and civil society organizations, to ensure the protection and safety of children, their families, and communities.
As the UNICEF Pacific Representative, Mr. Veitch will oversee UNICEF programmes and operations in Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. He was appointed to the position of UNICEF Pacific Representative in August 2021 and he is based in Suva, Fiji.
Prior to this current appointment, Mr. Veitch was the Deputy Director of the Private Fundraising and Partnerships Division at UNICEF, based in Geneva, responsible for the relationship with UNICEF’s 33 National Committees.