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Formal handover of the Icelandic contribution for the safe opening of schools

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Remarks by Dr. Munir Safieldin, UNICEF Representative

This past January, the Government of Uganda did one of the most important things it could do on behalf of children across the country, and that is to** reopen the schools.**

The greatest task for us today is to do whatever we can to help keep them open. This means ensuring that **teachers and learners have access to good sanitation and hygiene **to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Today we are here to express our appreciation to the Government of Iceland for everything it is doing to support WASH in schools in Uganda.

Iceland has donated 300,000 US dollars—which is approximately 1.1 billion Ugandan shillings—to UNICEF to provide critical hand-washing facilities and supplies to 600 government-aided primary and secondary schools across the country to control the transmission of COVID-19.

With this contribution, schools will also receive child-friendly posters reminding children about the importance of personal hygiene and handwashing with soap and clean water.

Iceland’s donation is coming at a very important moment, when** schools are still in their first term**, and students, teachers, and administrators are all adjusting to this “new normal.”

Iceland’s generosity will ensure that safe and continued learning will be available to children throughout this country, especially children who are marginalized and hardest hit by the pandemic.

As UNICEF’s Executive Director has said, COVID-19 has been the most significant global crisis for children in the past 100 years. The pandemic has rolled back virtually every measure of progress for children across the world. It exposed a lot of work that still needs to be done.

At the same time, it has also shown us how interconnected we are, and how much **we need each other **to move forward.

I see contributions like Iceland’s as a recognition of that solidarity. During this fraught global moment, we need to remind ourselves not only of the challenges, but what we can achieve together.

Thank you.