Actor and Humanitarian Liam Neeson was today announced as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, reflecting his long commitment to help save and improve the lives of children around the world affected by poverty, disease, abuse and neglect.

The Oscar-nominated actor – perhaps best known for his leading roles in Schindler's List, Taken and the recently released Unknown – has supported UNICEF since 1997, in part through his role as a National Ambassador for UNICEF in Ireland.

"Liam Neeson is not only a passionate dramatic actor, he is a deeply compassionate humanitarian actor," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. "UNICEF is very lucky that he is choosing to use his time and talent to support the world's most vulnerable children, and we thank him for accepting this new role as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador."

In regards to the appointment, Mr. Neeson said, "I am deeply honoured to have been asked by UNICEF to become a Goodwill Ambassador and am committed to working with UNICEF to help children overcome poverty, violence, disease and discrimination across the world."

Mr. Neeson was the public face of the Change for Good partnership between UNICEF Ireland and Aer Lingus between 1997 and 2007.

In 2005, Mr. Neeson travelled to Mozambique where he visited a health centre to see UNICEF's Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme; a hospital to learn about the treatment provided for children living with HIV and AIDS; and a centre providing shelter to abused, abandoned and orphaned children.

Most recently, Mr. Neeson has been supporting UNICEF's 'Believe in Zero' Campaign in Ireland and the United States. This campaign highlights the plight of the 8 million children who are not reaching their fifth birthday every year and is raising urgently needed funding for UNICEF ‘child survival’ programmes.

Speaking about why supporting UNICEF is so important to him, Mr. Neeson said, "One of the reasons I'm proud to be associated with UNICEF is because UNICEF is working to reduce the number of children who die every day from preventable causes. It is shocking to me that in this day and age, 22,000 children are still dying every day for want of the most basic things like clean water to drink, a safe place to live or access to medicines when they are sick. I am determined to do whatever I can to help UNICEF."

As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Neeson will continue to raise awareness about the issues that affect the lives of children and their right to have access to basic health care, primary education, protection and a safe environment.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson following his appointment in London. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0510/Mark Stedman
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson following his appointment in London.© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-0510/Mark Stedman