Philippe Barragne-Bigot, the UNICEF representative in Nicaragua, receiving the Grand Cross Grade of the Order of “José de Marcoleta”. ©UNICEF Nicaragua/2015/M. García Terán
10 de September de 2015

UNICEF Representative Philippe Barragne-Bigot finishes his mission in Nicaragua after four years in the country: “I’m going, but UNICEF is staying.”

Managua.- The government of Nicaragua today awarded the Grand Cross Grade of the “Order of José de Marcoleta” to the UNICEF representative in Nicaragua, Philippe Barragne-Bigot. The UNICEF representative received the award for helping to strengthen the existing cooperation relations between UNICEF and Nicaragua and for working to accompany the efforts of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity in accordance with its policies and priorities in favour of the country’s children. Barragne-Bigot will conclude his mission in the country next week and has been named UNICEF representative in the Republic of Chad.

Speaking during the award ceremony, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos explained that, “We have joined efforts to defend, promote and guarantee the restitution of rights in the framework of the Love for the Smallest Ones Programme, whose clear objective is to improve the living conditions of Nicaragua children. Since he was named in October 2011, we have had his support and enthusiasm in the dialogue with the cooperation community for education in the search for the more effective use of the resources, proposing their alignment to the national priorities, respecting the model that Nicaragua is promoting, and remaining firm in ensuring that all of the resources go directly to children, youth, to our people.

“This order awarded by Comandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of the Republic, demonstrates the gratefulness of the people and the government of Nicaragua for having shared in UNICEF in solidarity the successes and challenges of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity, which have been aimed at achieving a comprehensive and sustainable development that allows macroeconomic stability with social justice.”

“I receive this honourable distinction as recognition of the whole UNICEF Nicaragua work team; a team of professionals with passion and commitment to the rights of children. This award is also a recognition of the whole United Nations system and all of you because we do not work alone,” said the UNICEF representative.

He also stated that along with his wife and sons, he was taking many memories with him, particularly of the warmth and human solidarity of Nicaraguan people, including “Friendships that have made me feel at home, and especially the faces of children that enjoy vaccines, free education, birth registration, health services and maternal houses, which are government initiatives supported by UNICEF.”

Last field visit

The Governments of the Northern and Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions, several of their Secretariats and the Bilwi Mayor’s Office all received courtesy visits from the UNICEF representative as he concluded his mission in Nicaragua after four years in the country. The different meetings held during the first days of September stressed the advances made by both regions in the area of children’s human rights; the use of innovation tools and empathy in the design of public policies; the strengthening of capacities for monitoring child-related indicators; and the efforts to build an education that respects the Caribbean Coast’s linguistic and cultural diversity.

“I’ve had the opportunity to serve a country in which there are significant advances in favour of children,” Philippe Barragne-Bigot said of his time working as UNICEF representative in Nicaragua during the period 2011-2015. He also reflected on the pioneering social policies developed in Nicaragua that could serve as a model and be adapted in other countries and contexts.

The Regional Policy for Children of the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS) was approved in December 2014, and the Intercultural Policy for Children of the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN) in August 2015. Both were passed following strong intersectoral work with the participation of communities, families and children and with accompaniment from UNICEF.

“With the work of UNICEF, we have understood that by listening to what people want we can make an impact and advances,” said Luis Calderón, director of the Management Secretariat of the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regional Government (GRACCS), highlighting that “the issue of children is everyone’s issue.”

“We thank Philippe Barragne-Bigot and UNICEF for the unconditional support provided, particularly for supporting the process of the recently-approved Intercultural Policy for Children of the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region,” commented Eufemia García, director of the Secretariat for Women, the Family and Children of the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regional Government (GRACCN). “Thanks for the support given to our region.”

The UNICEF presence at the local level

“At UNICEF we have the desire to be close to the Northern and Southern Caribbean Coast Regional Governments, our partners, the communities and the children, and that translates into the presence of professionals in the UNICEF sub-offices in Bilwi and Bluefields, a team that is here to support you,” stressed Barragne-Bigot in the different meetings with institutions, referring to the sub-offices established during his period with the mission of maintaining a presence in the territory and supporting and strengthening partners and counterparts for the realization of the human rights of children.

“Developing a closer relationship with the UNICEF Sub-office in Bluefields has allowed us to work better for the region’s children,” said Inés Hernández, director of the GRACCS’ Secretariat for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, thanking UNICEF for both the economic resources and the technical support and advice it has provided.

“Before we felt that UNICEF was only in Managua, but now we feel that it’s closer,” stated Anicia Matamoros, vice mayor of Bilwi in the RACCN, referring to the UNICEF Bilwi Sub-office team. “We have the willingness to do the best possible job with the experience we’ve acquired thanks to UNICEF.”

“UNICEF has been involved in issues and places that others don’t want to go to,” said Cesáreo Bello, technical coordinator of the GRACCN’s Education Secretariat, talking about the work relations with the UNICEF team and representative. “We’ve had very good experiences with you and your team. Our most sincere thanks in the name of the children, mothers and fathers and teachers of the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. We are sorry you are going, Philippe, but we will continue with the support of UNICEF.”

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Olga Moraga, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Nicaragua