Emiliya, 6, holds a rubber ball in a school gym.
Emiliya, 6, holds a rubber ball in a school gym.

What do we do?

We protect childhood, for every child

Childhood is universal, and we are here to protect it, for every child

For over 75 years, UNICEF has been protecting childhood by ensuring more of the world’s children are vaccinated, educated, and protected than any other organisation.

We operate the largest humanitarian warehouse on Earth. Therefore, this means we can respond at speed to protect children in emergencies and build long-term resilience.

Additionally, we influence laws and policies to ensure children’s rights are built on secure, durable foundations.

In UNICEF, the C stands for children.

Discover our work

What does UNICEF do during emergencies?

Right now, we are supporting millions of children in the aftermath of conflicts and disasters around the world. We are also protecting children who are living in vulnerable circumstances.

These are children such as Elan, who lives in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan. Elan was born with four fingers missing on her left hand. Recently she was fitted with a prosthetic hand made with the skill and ingenuity of other refugees in the camp and the support of a UNICEF partnership. Her new hand will help her do the things she loves, like playing and drawing.

In Ukraine our medical teams are looking after the physical and mental health of children.

We’re reaching children in Yemen with life-saving therapeutic food, health care and clean water.

Learn more about how we help keep children safe in an emergency.

When I play I just feel happy.

Elan in a UNICEF-supported inclusive playground in Jordan.

We protect children with clean water and sanitation

The lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities affects children’s heath and education. Many children, especially girls, miss classes because of water-related illnesses.

In the past four years, we’ve helped almost 70 million people access safe water and sanitation. 

In Yemen, we support children like 9-year-old Zainab whose health was at risk without access to clean water and sanitation.

After UNICEF improved the water and sanitation facilities at her school, Zainab and her friends can focus on their education in a safe environment.

Learn more about our water and sanitation work.

Zainab, a 9-year-old washes her hands in newly installed school bathrooms.
Now I can use the bathroom comfortably.

Zainab, 9, on improved water and sanitation facilities at her school, funded by UNICEF.

We protect every child’s right to an education

Emergencies can rob children of their education. Not only do they lose crucial classroom time, they also lose time with their friends in a safe, child-friendly space. We are dedicated to ensuring that emergencies don’t define a child’s education.

In partnership with governments, communities and parents we are working to provide every child with access to a quality education. In 2022, we helped to make sure almost 40 million out-of-school children could keep learning.

In areas of conflict like Burkina Faso, we build temporary learning centres and school resources to bridge the gap.

For those, who have been displaced by the conflict like Abasse, we have been supporting them with school enrollment, helping ease the transition.

Learn more about our education work.

8-year-old Abasse sits and smiles outside his home, his family in the background.
Since I’m going to school now, I’ve got some friends.

Abasse, 8, on starting at a new school in Benin, after fleeing conflict in Burkina Faso.

We protect children with vaccines

Since 1980, we have helped quadruple immunisation rates for children across the world, saving up to 3 million children’s lives a year.

Now, more children are protected than ever before, but there is still more that needs to be done.

Take 2-year-old Anirlan who lives in the far North of Mongolia with her mother, Otgonbayar. The life-saving vaccines Anirlan needs are hundreds of miles away. However, we were able to provide her with the vaccines she needs. We help reach half the world’s children like Anirlan with life-saving vaccines every year, to protect them from dangerous diseases like whooping cough, measles and polio.

Learn more about our vaccination work.

Anirlan in Mongolia holds up her inked finger to the camera, indicating that she has recently been vaccinated. Her mum holds her in the background.
I want my daughter to be vaccinated to keep her healthy and happy.

Otgonbayar, toddler Anirlan's mother

How do I learn more about UNICEF?

A Brief History of What We Do

UNICEF was created in 1946 to protect the rights of children displaced during World War 2. Since then, the scale and scope of our work has grown massively.

But our aim remains fundamentally unchanged—the C in our name has always stood for children. We’re still working with children and caregivers in some of the world’s toughest places.

Now, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the basis of all our work. It provides a complete statement of child’s rights, the absolutes upon which a safe, healthy and happy childhood can blossom.

Our work aims to realise those rights for every child, no matter where they live or who they are.

Children are at the heart of our work. Children are at the heart of UNICEF.

How do I get involved?