NEW YORK – The United Arab Emirates and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) signed a new Memorandum of Understanding today that will allow UAE nationals to join the agency as full-time staff. Under the Junior Professional Officers (JPO) programme, the first-ever Emiratis in the UN agency’s global operations will take up positions later this year.

Among the attendees of the signing ceremony, which was held at the UAE Mission to the United Nations in New York, were H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations and Ms. Fatoumata Ndiaye, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive.

“With over 40% of the global population under the age of 25, there has never been a more important time to focus on children and youth,” Ambassador Nusseibeh said. “UNICEF is one of the UAE’s most valued and earliest international partners, and we are honored to focus on building our mutual capacity to serve and empower children and young people.” 

Fatoumata Ndiaye, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive, said that “this partnership brings critical perspectives from the Gulf and MENA region into the work of the agency, and integrates them with the broader global agenda to help all children and young people fulfill their potential.”

UNICEF’s JPO programme allows sponsored recent graduates and young professionals from participating countries to work for two to three years in UNICEF’s operations across 190 countries, as well as its headquarters in New York. The JPO agreement with the UAE marks UNICEF’s first in the Middle East and North Africa. Assignments range from development of policies on nutrition to provision of education in humanitarian crises.  Many JPO participants join UNICEF permanently, or return to their countries to lead children and youth-focused initiatives. 

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will facilitate placement of nationals in the UNICEF programme through a competitive interview process, starting this month.

The UAE and UNICEF have a long history of partnership. UNICEF first commenced its operations in the UAE in 1977, and UAE donors are among the largest contributors to the agency. The UAE government, as well as such major UAE development and humanitarian actors as Dubai Cares, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and the Big Heart Foundation, have active programmes with UNICEF in the UAE, Yemen, Comoros, and The Gambia, among other countries.