- Jade Thirlwall spoke to 17-year-old Somaya who lives in Aden, Yemen to share stories about her Yemeni heritage and learn more about the vital work UNICEF does to support children and families impacted by the ongoing conflict in the country
- To prevent the spread of coronavirus and following national lockdown restrictions, the conversation between Jade and Somaya took place over Zoom
- Video and imagery available to download here
- The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) fundraises in the UK for UNICEF. To find out more about UNICEF UK’s emergency appeal for children in Yemen, and to donate, please visit org.uk/yemen
Thursday 25th March – Little Mix star and The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) supporter, Jade Thirlwall, has been sharing stories about her Yemeni heritage and learning more about the ongoing conflict in Yemen.
Through an inspiring socially distanced conversation with 17-year-old Somaya from Sana’a, Jade and Somaya covered a range of topics including the impact of the country’s conflict on Somaya and her family, life for young women and girls living in Yemen and the vital work UNICEF is doing to support children and families. Jade also answered questions from Somaya about her own Yemeni heritage and family background.
Jade Thirlwall was born in South Shields, in the North East of England. Her grandfather, Mohammed, came to England from Yemen in 1943 and he told her fascinating stories about their culture, which was instrumental to helping her understand her Arab heritage.
Jade told Somaya how she fondly remembers her grandfather’s Yemeni cooking and that since he passed away, she feels she’s lost part of her heritage, which she wants to claim back. Jade explains the more she finds out about Yemen, the more she is finding a piece of herself and believes that while it’s important to celebrate her heritage, she also wants to educate herself about the ongoing conflict in and use her profile to raise awareness of UNICEF’s vital work supporting children and families.
Yemen remains the largest crisis in the world. Almost every child in Yemen – more than 12 million – needs humanitarian assistance. The spread of Covid-19 means the country is now facing a further emergency. Sanitation and clean water are in short supply. Barely half of health facilities are functioning. UNICEF urgently needs help to save children’s lives, preserve their future and help them cope with the long-term impact of the conflict.
Jade Thirlwall, UNICEF UK supporter said: “It was a pleasure to speak to Somaya and I am grateful to UNICEF UK for giving us the opportunity to have such a special conversation. It is so important to hear from the people who are impacted by the conflict in Yemen and Somaya is the perfect example of a determined, remarkable young woman doing all she can to give a voice to the children who have been impacted.
“The coronavirus pandemic has showed us that now, more than ever, we need to care for each other. Somaya’s wish for a future where every child can fulfil their dreams and potential was inspirational, and I am honoured to use my platform to amplify her story.”
Somaya, 17-years-old, from Aden, Yemen said: “I hope that the war and coronavirus will end soon so we can return to our normal lives. I hope that kids in the future will not suffer like we do, and peace will find its way back. That is my hope for Yemen.
“We sometimes lose hope, but I know things will get better and I am grateful for what I do have. I am in my last year of school and lucky to have the opportunity to get an education, while many other girls in Yemen enter early marriages or are made to stay at home.”
The coronavirus outbreak has put yet more added pressure on the already fragile healthcare system in Yemen – more than half of health facilities are not functioning – and global shortages and breaks in the supply chain could lead to further loss of household income, rising food prices and inflation.
School closures and the worsening economic situation due to Covid-19 restrictions have increased the risk of children and women facing exploitation, violence and abuse.
To find out more about UNICEF UK’s emergency appeal for children in Yemen, and to donate, please visit unicef.org.uk/yemen
For more information, please contact:
Jack Everett, 0207 375 6259, email@example.com
Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children and works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
The United Kingdom National Committee for Unicef (Unicef UK) is one of 33 National Committees for UNICEF who support UNICEF’s mission in their territories. Unicef UK works tirelessly to raise funds for UNICEF and advocate for children’s rights in the UK and around the world. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities and communities in the UK. Unicef UK is a charity, entirely funded by our supporters. It receives no money from the UN budget.
United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF is a registered charity 1072612 (England and Wales) and SC043677 (Scotland).