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Statement on the death of Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UNFPA

Gender, Health, News/feature, Global, 2017


The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D and the Minister of State for Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh T.D. have expressed their shock and sadness at the sudden death of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Speaking today, the Minister and Minister of State offered their sympathies to the Executive Director’s family and friends, colleagues and staff, and the wider UN system. They noted that Dr. Babatunde, as he was universally known, was a champion of the health and rights of women and girls, using his position to speak for those who are too often left behind.

Minister Flanagan stated:

“Dr Babatunde was an inspirational leader and a true champion of the empowerment of women and girls. His untimely loss will be felt across the UN system, but also among all those working for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the elimination of poverty in our world."

Minister of State Joe McHugh recalled:

“I had the honour to meet Dr. Babatunde at the United Nations last year. During our meeting, we discussed the need to focus on the empowerment of women and girls in order to end poverty in Africa and throughout the developing world. He outlined passionately his strong determination to meet the UNFPA objective of delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled."

“Ireland recognises that issues affecting women and girls are central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the elimination of poverty and inequality. To this end, we support maternal and reproductive health services, the provision of training for midwives, family planning and actions to ensure that services are available in the hardest to reach areas. Our partnerhsip with the UNFPA has, and will continue to play, an important role in our work in this area.”

Dr Babatunde last visited Ireland on 21 October 2016. On that occassion he launched the UNFPA’s annual State of the World’s Population Report. That report focused on the future of the 10-year-old girl, examining the ways in which forced marriage, child labour, female genital mutilation and other practices undermine girls’ health and rights and threaten the world’s agenda for sustainable development.

Press Office
06 June 2017

Note for editors:
• In 2017, Ireland has provided €2.8million in core support to the UNFPA.
• Dr Babatunde had served as the head of the UNFPA since 2011. The UNFPA’s mandate is to assist countries to improve reproductive health and family planning services, prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS (particularly, among young people and women), empower women and girls, and formulate population policies that support sustainable development and poverty eradication. Its work is guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Programme of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.