UNICEF believes all children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential – to the benefit of a better world.

Birzaf Akelew, 20 and her 5 years old daughter Fire Chekole, Sekota Zuria Woreda, Amhara Regional State.

UNICEF in Ethiopia

UNICEF has been present in Ethiopia since 1952 and its history is closely tied to Ethiopia’s gradual transformation into a modern economy with strong aspirations for middle income status by 2025.

At the end of the Second World War, Ethiopia embarked on a programme to modernize its economy and social infrastructure. International organizations were invited to support this effort and, starting in 1952, United Nations officials, including UNICEF staffers, began to frequently visit the country to deliver medical supplies and organize vaccinations of children. In 1958, UNICEF established its first office in Addis Ababa and in 1963 signed a formal Basic Cooperation Agreement (BCA) with the Government.

From inception, UNICEF was guided by the vision of a better future for all children. Through some of the country’s most difficult times, and as the country achieved one milestone after another, UNICEF was there to provide policy advice, render technical support, and improve service delivery.

Between 2000-2015, Ethiopia recorded major achievements which included reduction of child mortality by more than two-thirds, halving the number of people living in absolute poverty, expansion of social infrastructure such as health posts and primary schools, reduction of undernutrition in children, and increased access to safe water and sanitation. 

With a staff of more than 400 and a field presence in each of the country’s eight regional states, our programme in Ethiopia is one of the largest UNICEF programmes globally.

UNICEF works to support national efforts to ensure the realization of the rights of children and women through improved child survival, development and protection. Over the past six decades UNICEF has established strong relations with the Government of Ethiopia, bi-laterals, donors, development partners and civil society.


Children in Accelerated Readiness School programme in Afar
UNICEFEthiopia /2018/ Tadesse

Our mission 

UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.

UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to establish children's rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour towards children.

Meet our representative

Ms. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia poses to take a picture with a local boy at the UNICEF/DIFID supported community emergency water supply scheme at Woiru Dikala Kebele, Raya Kobo woreda, Amhara region.

MS. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia

Gillian Mellsop is the UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia, based in the capital Addis Ababa. She has held this position since April 2015. She is responsible for planning, coordination and evaluation of a broad range of UNICEF programmes, both developmental and humanitarian, benefiting the rights and well-being of children and women in Ethiopia.

Ms. Gillian Mellsop joined UNICEF in April 2003 as Representative in the Pacific where she was responsible for the planning, implementation and management of the regional programme of cooperation to improve the status of women and children in fourteen Pacific Island Countries. She also served as UNICEF Representative in Nepal and China prior to joining UNICEF in Ethiopia.

Ms. Mellsop began her international development career in 1979 with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the External Aid Division. She then joined the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) where her work included serving as AusAID’s representative in Australian Missions in Bangladesh, Laos and India (also covering Nepal and Bhutan) where she was responsible for Australia’s development co-operation programmes in those countries. Ms. Mellsop was also involved in managing Australia’s aid programmes in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Prior to joining UNICEF, she was the Director of AusAID’s UN and Commonwealth Programme.

Ms. Mellsop is a national of both New Zealand and Australia. She is a graduate of University of Auckland in Anthropology and History, holds a post-graduate Diploma in Community Counselling from the University of Canberra and a Master’s degree in Development Management from the Australian National University. Ms. Mellsop has a son (aged 29) and a daughter (aged 26).