UNICEF Country Representative receives the Highest National Award, the Order of Timor-Leste

UNICEF Country Representative receives the Highest National Award, the Order of Timor-Leste


DILI, 21 may 2024 (TATOLI) – The Noble-Laureate President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, on sunday, 19 may 2024, conferred the prestigious Ordem de Timor-Leste (Decoration of the Order of Timor-Leste) on the Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani, in acknowledgment and recognition of his outstanding contributions to Timor-Leste over the last three years.  This highest national award is bestowed upon those who demonstrate exceptional services and achievements for the development of the country.

Durrani will end his tour of duty in Timor-Leste in july 2024, concluding a successful tenure during which he supported the Government of Timor-Leste in responding to two large-scale humanitarian crises that occurred at the same time in 2021: the worst floods in the recent history of the country, and the community-transmission explosion of COVID-19.

Under Durrani’s leadership, UNICEF supported the Government of Timor-Leste achieve remarkable milestones in COVID-19 vaccinations, reaching more than 90 percent of the eligible population by facilitating timely delivery of vaccines, establishing cold-chain systems, training of health professionals, and running a nationwide Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) campaign.

In response to the April floods, UNICEF conducted 4,342 health consultations, providing 44 million liters of clean water through 229 water tanks, 170 units of temporary toilets, and 13 Child-Friendly Spaces, benefitting more than 1,600 children in evacuation centers and 2,409 children in communities who were impacted by floods.

UNICEF has also continued to work closely with the Government to scale up sustainable programs for the achievement of quality results for children in the areas of health, nutrition, water and sanitation, social protection, child protection, and education. As a result of UNICEF’s advocacy, led directly by Mr. Durrani, child rights are at the forefront of the President’s vision and the Government’s development agenda, with the IX Constitutional Government announcing Early Childhood Development (ECD) as one of the three top state priorities.

“Today, we honor Bilal Durrani for his great work over the three years with UNICEF. UNICEF is one of UN agencies that has done remarkable work in Timor-Leste. When we pay tribute to UNICEF, we pay tribute to all the UN system,” said the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, at the award ceremony.

In accepting this special award, Durrani expressed appreciation for the collective efforts of UNICEF staff, past and present, whose commitment and dedication to the children of Timor-Leste, have made it possible for UNICEF to be recognized at such a high level. 

“I am humbled and grateful to receive this prestigious award on behalf of UNICEF, which is a testament to the close-knit collaboration between UNICEF and the Government of Timor-Leste. I am privileged and proud to have spent meaningful tenure in Timor-Leste, during which I have had the distinct honor of supporting President Horta’s noble vision of a Timor-Leste where no child dies at birth, and where every child is healthy, well-nourished, learning, and safe,” said Durrani.

The Ordem de Timor-Leste (Decoration of the Order of Timor-Leste) was established by the Government to pay special recognition to individuals, who in their professional or social activities, have made a significant contribution to the benefit of Timor-Leste, the Timorese people and the Humanity. 


Journalist: Jose Belarmino de Sa

Editor: Filomeno Martins 


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