Imagine a preschool class filled with 30 bright-eyed, innocent four-year olds who enjoy nothing more than playing with their classmates and friends. Now imagine that by the time those children reach the age of five, the time when they would typically begin kindergarten, four of those 30 children will have died. This is the unfortunate situation in war torn countries all around the world. UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2012 report indicated that in Afghanistan, the chances of a child dying before the age of five is 1 in 7, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the chances are 1 in 6 and in Uganda they’re 1 in 10. World-wide, a total of 6.6 million children died before ever reaching their fifth birthday in 2012. These staggering statistics need to be addressed on a global level.
This situation of being in school is hypothetical however, because the fact is that nearly 24 million children in over 20 conflict-affected countries are also missing out on an education. This number amounts to nearly 1 in 4 children being deprived of an education in countries affected by conflict and war. In broader context, these 24 million children without an education are part of the 230 million children living in countries afflicted by violent conflict. Children are the future and this many children around the world are being killed, abused, and undoubtedly traumatized, what can we expect our world to look like 20 or 30 years from now?
“Millions of children have been robbed of their childhood, their country and have lost their loved ones. As a result of the conflict in Syria, they are missing out on their education and are having to work to provide for their families,” said UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Salma Hayek, when she visited Syrian refugees in Lebanon last April. Hayek is not alone in her efforts to bring awareness to children in need. David Beckham is another UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who has made a commitment to shed light on the conditions of children who have been misplaced due to crisis and who are affected by preventable diseases. His initiative, 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, works to protect and support millions of children in danger world-wide. The goals of these Goodwill Ambassadors is to be the support for children who have no hope, who are struggling to survive, and who desperately need an education to ensure a bright future.
Shakira, a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and advocate for children, uses her talents to raise awareness and invoke action. Her international presence allows her to encourage her fans to help and support the causes dear to her. Just recently, she sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2015, in New York City. She dedicated her performance to Aylan and Ghalib Kurdi, two Syrian children who lost their lives trying to flee from violence. Shakira, just like many other artists, want their voice to be heard and to inspire others to get involved in order to help save the world’s children.
UNICEF believes that every child has the right to survive, the right to an education, and a fair chance in life. For over 70 years, the organization has been fighting for the rights of children worldwide. They have initiatives that work with conflict affected areas in an effort to decrease child mortality rates and to support children currently being affected by war.