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Abstinence supporter nominated to head UNICEF

Abstinence supporter nominated to head UNICEF

Outgoing U.S. agriculture secretary Ann Veneman, a supporter of President Bush's push for abstinence-only sex and HIV-prevention education, has been nominated by United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan to become executive director of UNICEF. If approved, Veneman would take over the agency in May, succeeding Carol Bellamy, who will end her second five-year term as UNICEF director on April 30. Veneman, responding to questions about her nomination to head UNICEF, said reproductive health and education issues are not relevant to the agency's mission. When asked whether she would continue to support UNICEF's long-standing policy of support for comprehensive reproductive health programs, which is at odds with Bush's abstinence efforts, Veneman said she didn't "come with any agenda with regard to those or any other social issues. I come with an agenda of helping children, particularly in the areas of education and health, and to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition. Annan reportedly nominated Veneman to head UNICEF in an effort to repair strained relations between the U.N. and the Bush administration. Bush himself had recommended Veneman to head the agency. The Washington Times reports that Bush administration officials made "no secret of their frustration" of current UNICEF director Bellamy's support of sex education and contraception use and had "waited eagerly" for her to leave the agency. Veneman said she plans to serve as a bridge between the Bush administration and the U.N., particularly with regard in working toward the U.N.'s Millennium Development goals.

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