UNICEF UK today launched a series of press adverts across UK broadsheet newspapers to draw much needed attention to the desperate situation unfolding in the Sahel region of West Africa.

Appealing to readers of The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Independent, the adverts take the form of a simple and heartfelt letter from UNICEF UK Executive Director David Bull, who describes the situation unfolding in eight countries across the Sahel region as a “SCANDAL”, saying:

“We have seen some of the most amazing technological advances in recent decades – things we would never have thought possible,” said Mr Bull. “And yet we haven’t stopped young children starving.”

“UNICEF estimates that at least 1 million young children are at risk of severe malnutrition. That means a risk of dying. In a worse case, up to 1.5 million children could be at risk.

“We think this unfolding situation is a scandal that we should bring to your attention. If you too think this is an outrage, please help do something about it.”

Today’s press ads follow an unprecedented effort last week by UNICEF offices around the world to raise awareness of this crisis with a mass social media campaign, #SahelNOW, through Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.

In the first forty eight hours alone, the #SahelNOW hashtag reached more than 40.4 million people worldwide and the campaign was also supported by well known celebrity Twitter users including Selena Gomez and the UK’s Eddie Izzard.

Today’s newspaper ads will be accompanied by a second wave of the social media activity on ‘Charity Tuesday’, including ‘hashjacking’ where UNICEF UK will take over trending hashtags with up to date information about the Sahel crisis.

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake will also speak about the crisis at the Palais de Nations in Geneva this morning, on return from a trip to Chad to assess the latest developments in the region.

As he left Chad, Mr Lake said, “The people of the Sahel are on the edge of a perfect storm with one million children at risk.”

"If you have an earthquake, or if you have a flood, you don't have much in the way of advance warning -- a little with a flood, none with an earthquake -- so you have to respond as quickly as you can."

He finished saying, "Here we know it's coming. Here, there's absolutely no excuse."

UNICEF is the largest provider of therapeutic food for severely malnourished children in the region and has already treated tens of thousands of children since January. 

However, so far the unfolding emergency remains dangerously under-reported and the world’s leading children’s organisation has received less than half of the £77 million it needs to prevent the deaths of over one million children and help address the underlying causes of malnutrition in the longer term. 

To support UNICEF’s work in West Africa please text* the word DONATE to 78866 to make a £5 donation, or go to www.unicef.org.uk


Notes to Editors:

UNICEF UK Executive Director David Bull is available for interview.  For more information or to receive the full ad text, please contact:

Ju-Lin Tan, UNICEF UK Press office: julint@unicef.org.uk / 020 7375 6030 / 07814 549 071


UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk.

*Texts charged at premium rates. You will be charged £5 plus one message at your standard network rate