Ishmael Beah, best-selling author and human rights spokesperson, was appointed UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War in 2007. “For me it’s just a way to give me more strength to continue doing what I’ve already embarked on, what I’ve dedicated my life to doing – which is to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t continue to happen to other children around the world,” he said.
In 1991, the outbreak of a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone upended the lives of millions. Eleven year-old Ishmael Beah’s parents and two brothers were killed. He was forcibly recruited into the war at age 13. After two years, with UNICEF help, he was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown.
Mr. Beah continues his advocacy to help change the course for the thousands of children still trapped in wars. In 2008, he co-founded the Network of Young People Affected by War (NYPAW) with a mission to raise awareness of the plight of children in conflict zones, advocate for an end to hostilities and provide role models for children who are currently struggling to recover from war.
Ishmael Beah’s book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier was published in the United States in 2007. It has since been published in Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia and appears in over 35 languages