|On 13 February, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow cradles an acutely malnourished baby girl at a UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centre in the western city of Mao|
NEW YORK, 16 February 2012 – On February 20th, join Mia Farrow & UNICEF for their Google Plus hangout from Bukavu, Congo.
While in the country, Mia is spending a majority of her time focusing on key areas of UNICEF’s such as polio eradication (where recently an outbreak was recorded), ‘child soldiers’, and sexual violence.
Social services in the country have become impaired, affecting many women and children, which then results in further vulnerabilities such as lack of access to education, health care, and safe water.
Mia will be joined by UNICEF staff in the Congo office as well as additional colleagues from the India (whose country has just celebrated one year free of any polio cases) & Pakistan Offices. In addition to Mia and UNICEF colleagues participating; students, bloggers, and activists from around the world will be ‘hanging out’ on Google Plus and will share their own personal stories and questions with Mia related to her visit. A moderator will select questions from UNICEF’s online communities to ask Mia Farrow directly about her own experiences thus far.
To Participate: Add UNICEF to your circle on Google Plus before the actual event which takes place on February 20th at 2pm (EST).
Use the hash tag #miaCONGO to ask your question to Mia Farrow or UNICEF colleagues via Twitter or Google Plus before or during the event. UNICEF and Google Plus staff will ensure that questions are directed to the relevant participants.
The visit to Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes at a pivotal time in the global fight against polio. In January, it was announced that India for the first time reported no new cases of the crippling disease for a full year. Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan are among the last four polio endemic countries, down from 125 in 1988.
Farrow, who had polio as a child, carries the message that the world can learn from the experience of India and further strengthen the collective push for polio eradication – especially following outbreaks in countries that were once polio free, including Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Experts fear that gains made from a massive global health push - which has included 20 million volunteers immunizing 2.5 billion children since 1988 - could be lost, just as the world is on the brink of eradicating the disease.
An important part of fighting polio is to ensure that children have access to clean water, basic sanitation and proper nutrition for them to absorb the vaccine and avoid contracting polio and other diseases.
In Chad, the issue of nutrition is especially urgent. The Sahel region, including parts of Chad, is currently experiencing a food emergency, with some one million children under five in need of life saving treatment in feeding centres. Farrow will travel to the city of Mao to highlight the urgency in providing nutritional support to children and their families who lack food and water due to poor rains and failed harvests.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that has witnessed years of violent conflict that has claimed the lives of over 5.4 million people, Farrow will visit the Kalemie region before wrapping up her visit in Bukavu in South Kivu.
The internationally acclaimed actor and humanitarian joined UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador in 2000. She continues to be a tireless advocate for the rights of the world’s most vulnerable children, especially those impacted by conflict and violence. This will be Farrow’s 14th trip to Chad and her second trip to the DRC.
Attention editors and broadcasters: Multimedia packages including photos and b-roll will be available at: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects children under five. The virus attacks the nervous system and is transmitted through contaminated food, water and feces. One in two hundred infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. Polio cannot be cured and can only be prevented by immunization. WHO recommends that infants receive three doses of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) in the first year of life. Today, only four countries in the world-- Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan--remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For further information, please contact:
Christian Moen, UNICEF New York,
Tel +1 212 326 7516,
Malene Kamp Jensen, UNICEF New York,
+1 917 476 1635
Cornelia Walther, UNICEF DRC,
Tel: +243 (0) 81 884 6746,
Hector E. Calderon, UNICEF Chad,
Tel: +235 225 18989