“It’s unacceptable for children to die from hunger in the 21st century,” says Jackson

Janet Jackson, GRAMMY® Award-winning and Oscar® nominated artist, entertainer and actor is lending her talent and powerful voice to support UNICEF in providing humanitarian assistance in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa, where 1.4 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition, a potentially deadly condition if left untreated.

“We are all facing a silent emergency. So many children are at risk of losing their lives in the Sahel region of Africa because they don’t have food to eat,” said Jackson.

“We must act now to save and protect children at risk from malnutrition—not just in emergencies —but for today and forever. I commit my heart, my love, and my resources to this effort.  With your help and the leadership of UNICEF, we will bring change to West and Central Africa.”

Janet Jackson’s support for UNICEF’s vital nutrition work comes less than a week before the Nutrition for Growth Event, jointly hosted by the Governments of the United Kingdom and Brazil and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) takes place in London.  The event brings together business leaders, scientists, governments and civil society from around the world, while the UK based ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ campaign calls for this meeting to deliver the ambitious commitments needed to tackle malnutrition in some of the world’s poorest countries; enabling children, their communities and countries to prosper.

Jackson will be appearing in a Public Service Announcement and take to Twitter and Facebook with a message that children in the hard-hit Sahel region and across the globe can—and must—have access to proper food and other basic necessities to save and improve their lives. UNICEF has appealed for $248 million for this year to address the needs of children affected by chronic drought, rising food prices, and conflict in the semi-arid Sahel, a belt of land south of the Sahara desert.

UNICEF’s response in the area focuses on providing immediate support to the most vulnerable children, including life-saving therapeutic food, basic health services, and clean water to help safeguard against infectious diseases and diarrhea.  Last year, 800,000 children’s lives were saved from severe malnutrition in the Sahel. It was the largest intervention of its kind in the history of the region, which encompasses the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon, The Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal.

Globally, under-nutrition contributes to more than a third of deaths among children under the age of five. The physical and cognitive damage caused by not receiving enough of the right type of nutrients, especially in the first two years of life, is permanent. Lifelong physical and mental effects can include stunting, blindness, weakened immune systems, mental retardation, and other disabilities.

While the damage cannot be treated, it can be prevented by providing expectant mothers, newborns and very young children with nutrients such as proteins, fat, and vitamins; and minerals such as vitamin A, iron, and zinc.

“We must reject a world where children continue to die from hunger, in the 21st century, when we know that we have the resources to ensure that all children receive the right nutrition,” said Jackson.  “I believe in a world where there are ZERO children dying of malnutrition and other preventable causes. That is why I will raise awareness and support for the lifesaving solutions that are available, and my promise to all children is to make sure that people around the world are listening and participating in the change that must happen.  UNICEF is the best possible partner for this change.  It is powerful to join them in this program.”

Janet Jackson is a leading advocate in HIV/AIDS research and serves as an ambassador for amfAR.  She is an iconic figure in popular culture. A six-time GRAMMY winner who has sold more than 100 million records, Jackson is one of the best-selling artists in the history of music. She is known for a series of innovative and socially conscious records, intricate choreography, as well as roles in television and films. She is an award winning writer, including her number one New York Times best selling book, “True You,” which reveals her private struggles with nutrition and self-esteem.  “I understand what it means to starve intentionally.  I understand what it means to eat obsessively.  My battles with weight and self-esteem are so personal and yet the media has made them very public.  I feel called upon to bring food and love to children who don’t have any,” said Jackson. 

UNICEF UK is part of the UK’s Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, lobbying G8 leaders to end world hunger, www.enoughfoodif.org

Attention broadcasters: PSAs and B-roll will be available free of charge at  www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef

How to help: For more information on the crisis in the Sahel visit www.unicef.org.uk

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About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, working in over 190 countries to help every child realise their full potential. We work with partners to transform the lives of children everywhere.

UNICEF provides health care, water, nutrition, education and protection for children. The most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are our priority. As champion of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we work to protect and promote the rights of every child.

UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit unicef.org.uk

For additional information, please contact:
Rowena Campbell, UNICEF UK on rowenac@unicef.org.uk or 0207 375 6030/ 07958 058106