UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will ask a youth group climbing Africa’s highest mountain at the weekend to call him on a satellite telephone from the summit and brief him on the melting glaciers and the impact climate change is having on Mount Kilimanjaro.
The climbers will start their ascent on Saturday February 28 in the fourth annual climb organized by the Kilimanjaro Initiative, a non-governmental organization supported by the UN-HABITAT Youth and Safer Cities Programmes, devoted to transforming the lives of youth from poor urban neighbourhoods in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
“This year the climb has attracted the attention of the UN Secretariat as it champions the issue of climate change, which is affecting the global economy and contributing to the food crisis and an increase in environmental refugees,” said Ms. Fanina Kodre-Alexander of the United Nations Environment Programme. “This is why the Secretary General has asked us to contact him once we reach the top and talk to him about our experiences”.
Ms. Kodre-Alexander was speaking when she and Ms. Pamela Agnone, the Vice President of the United Nations Federal Credit Union joined UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka as she officially opened the Nairobi office of the Kilimanjaro Initiative.
The NGO was started four years ago by Mr. Tim Challen, a UNFCU employee who was shot and seriously wounded in a violent robbery in Nairobi. The organization provides an opportunity for youth from slums to climb the highest mountain in Africa, and in the process to gain confidence and self esteem. Over 50 youths from Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and other cities in the region have participated in the annual climb and shared their experiences with people from all corners of the world.
Mrs. Tibaijuka commended Mr. Challen, saying his unswerving energy and dedication had ensured the initiative’s success. “Tim came back to Nairobi to transform his personal and dramatic encounter with crime into an opportunity for development. He went that one step beyond what most of us do when we experience tragedy,” she said.
Mrs. Tibaijuka also said UN-HABITAT had been providing support to a city-wide initiative for the prevention of crime and violence in Nairobi, adding that it was hosting the 2nd National Forum on Safe Neighbourhoods at the Hilton Hotel from 23 to 26 February.
Ms. Agnone said UNFCU would donate office equipment and help raise funds to support the NGO’s proposed micro-finance project.