19 Year Old Appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has appointed 19-year-old Muzoon Almellehan, who has been advocating for girls’ education since fleeing war-torn Syria in 2013, as its newest – and youngest – Goodwill Ambassador.

Ms. Almellehan, is also the first person with an official refugee status to become an Ambassador for the UN agency. Since fleeing her homeland, she had been living in Jordan for three years, before being resettled in the United Kingdom.

It was during her 18 months in the Za’atari camp (in Jordan) that she began advocating for children’s access to education, particularly for girls.

In April this year, Ms. Almellehan – dubbed ‘the Malala of Syria’ – travelled to areas affected by the Boko Haram conflict in the Lake Chad region where she met with children forced out of school due to the violence.

Since her return, Ms. Almellehan has been working to promote understanding of the challenges children affected and uprooted by conflict face in accessing education.

According to UNICEF data, an estimated 25 million children of primary and secondary school are out of school in conflict zones around the world. For children living as refugees, only half are enrolled in primary school and less than a quarter are enrolled in secondary school.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations (UN) programme headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. The Polish physician Ludwik Rajchman is widely regarded as the founder of UNICEF and served as its first chairman from 1946.

UNICEF relies on contributions from governments and private donors. Governments contribute two-thirds of the organization’s resources. Private groups and individuals contribute the rest through national committees.

UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 and the Prince of Asturias Award of Concord in 2006.