On Universal Children's Day, UNICEF welcomes new initiative to aid children affected by conflict

NEW YORK, 20 November 2008 - As the world commemorates Universal Children's Day, UNICEF today welcomes the launch of a new group that aims to amplify the voice of those suffering as a result of conflict. The group has been established by young people with first-hand experience of the hardship children face in conflict zones.

The new network, led by UNICEF Advocate Ishmael Beah, will be launched today at a press conference at the United Nations in New York, hosted by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, and UNICEF.

It is the brainchild of Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone), Emmanuel Jal (Sudan), Grace Akallo (Uganda), Kon Kelei (Sudan), Zlata Filipovic (Bosnia Herzegovina), and China Keitetsi (Uganda). By working together, they will seek to raise awareness of the plight of children in conflict zones, to advocate for an end to hostilities and to serve as role models for children who are currently struggling to recover from war.

"Each of these young people has a story of overcoming great personal hardship," said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, welcoming the launch of the network. "This new network can draw attention to the suffering of children caught in conflicts and demonstrate how young people themselves can help dramatically rebuild their lives."


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF Media, New York, +1 212 326-7583,
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, NY, 1 212-326-7452,