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UNICEF launches “Unfairy Tales” of refugee and migrant children

True stories of children inspire #actofhumanity global initiative

© UNICEF/UNI197251/Gilbertson
An Afghan volunteer carries Zarah Nabizadeh, 5, a newly arrived refugee from Afghanistan, near the town of Mithymna, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, September 2015.

NEW YORK, 29 March 2016 -- UNICEF today launched a series of animated films to help frame positive perceptions towards the tens of millions of children and young people on the move globally.

Called Unfairy Tales, the three animations – true stories of the flight of children from conflict – explain the horror behind why they fled. They have been animated in the style of a fairy tale and will be supported by an interactive e-book experience also called Unfairy Tales.

The Unfairy Tales are part of an initiative, #actofhumanity, emphasising that children are children, no matter where they come from, and that every child has rights and deserves a fair chance.

“No matter where they are in the world, when refugee and migrant children reach their destination, it is the beginning of another journey, not the end of the road,” said Paloma Escudero, UNICEF’s head of communication.

“Every day, everywhere, people are helping them out with small acts of humanity. These acts rarely make news but they are making all the difference in the world to individual refugee and migrant children. UNICEF wants to showcase these #actofhumanity to inspire others and show the way forward,” Escudero said.

One story – “Ivine and the Pillow” – animates the true story of 14-year-old Ivine and her pillow, Pillow. After a perilous escape from Syria, Ivine settles at a refugee camp in Germany only to face new challenges. “Malak and the Boat”, tells the tale of a young girl’s voyage in a leaky boat. The third animation depicts the story of Mustafa, who after fleeing his home, wonders who is left to be his friend.

”The stories of the three children are not unusual. At least 65 million children and young people globally are on the move – escaping conflict, poverty and extreme weather - looking for a more stable life and a place to call home,” Escudero said. 

UNICEF paid tribute to the ad agency 180LA for conceiving and fully producing the series with help from animation houses Consulado, House of Colors, Bubba’s Chop Shop and Gilles+Cecilie Studio, along with Media Monks, which produced the interactive e-book.

180LA Executive Creative Directors Rafael Rizuto and Eduardo Marques said, “The Unfairy Tales picture with heartbreaking detail what it’s really like to be a child in that situation, showing that some stories were never meant for children. We needed to tell these stories to make everyone think about it."

UNICEF will engage audiences with social media messaging and intends to produce more animations. UNICEF’s ask is simple: Show an #actofhumanity towards refugee and migrant children and young people. Use #actofhumanity to share stories and inspire us and others.

The Unfairy Tales, plus the real stories behind the animation and other media assets can be downloaded here:


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:  

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.

For further information please contact:

John Budd, UNICEF New York, +1 917 909 9542

Chris Tidey, UNICEF Geneva, +41 79 204 2345, 

Sarah Crowe, UNICEF Geneva, +41 79 543 8029,

Meagan Philips, 180la,




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