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Ronan Farrow: A prominent voice advocating for children in Darfur

© UNICEF/HQ04-0862/Noorani
Ronan Farrow, a UNICEF spokesperson for youth, speaks with a smiling young woman in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people during his visit to North Darfur in November 2004.

By Kun Li

NEW YORK, USA, 20 December 2005 – Seventeen-year-old Ronan Farrow, a UNICEF spokesperson for youth, is a passionate and outspoken advocate for children and women caught up in the ongoing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region. He recently wrote two articles, published in the Boston Herald and Newsday, commenting on American policies in Darfur and the need to support the African Union, the peacekeeping force on the ground.

Accompanying his mother, famed actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow, on a visit to Darfur last year, Ronan witnessed firsthand the suffering of people driven from their homes by the conflict, who now number more than 3.4 million.

“Having witnessed the situation in Darfur, there is no way one could come away not feeling passionate about it,” said Ronan during an interview with UNICEF. “All across Darfur I talked to people, heard their stories and of course I felt the pressing need to try to do something. There is a tremendous amount that the US and people in the western world can do about Darfur,” continued Ronan.

© UNICEF/HQ04-0862/Noorani
Ronan Farrow looks on as his mother, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow, embraces a toddler at a UNICEF-supported 'child-friendly' project site in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people in North Darfur.

Children affected most

For almost three years the children of Darfur have constantly faced violence, severe food shortages, and disease due to the ongoing insecurity. Although the estimated 1.7 million children who live in camps and surrounding towns now have basic social services provided largely by humanitarian groups, there are still some 1.2 million children who remain unreached.

“There are so many orphans in these camps. An overwhelming majority of the people in refugee camps are women and children. The trauma and violence they have seen is huge.” said Ronan.

Young people are at forefront in helping Darfur

Ronan believes ordinary people, especially young people, can make a difference in bringing a better life to Darfur’s children. “I think individual people have made great strides in trying to bring attention back to Darfur, and in shaming governments who have dropped the ball,” said Ronan.

“Young people have also been at the forefront of trying to help Darfur. The group I am working with, the ‘Genocide Intervention Network’, has already raised a quarter of a million dollars for the African Union in Darfur, and that’s almost entirely from private donors, just people who want to help. There has been a tremendous outcry, and I think the more we can get it rolling, the more we can help the people on the ground.”

Ronan completed high school at age 11, and graduated from college at age 15. Upon turning 16, he was accepted into law school at Yale University. He not only excels in academics, but also is committed in lending a voice to people who are otherwise voiceless. He feels fortunate to be able to work with UNICEF, and is continuing to use his knowledge and passion to improve the lives of children who are most in need.




20 December 2005:
Ronan Farrow speaks with UNICEF correspondent Dan Thomas about the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

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