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Press release

UNICEF signs on Amitabh Bachchan to play role for children

NEW YORK, 14 April 2005 - UNICEF welcomed acclaimed Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan to its ranks of international Goodwill Ambassadors in a formal signing event this evening with Executive Director Carol Bellamy.

"Amitabh has the star power to illuminate the lives of the millions of children who are living in dire circumstances," said Ms. Bellamy.  "We look forward to a long collaboration with him, and we feel honoured to have him as part of the UNICEF family."

Mr. Bachchan's collaboration with UNICEF began in 2002 when a polio outbreak in northern India threatened to spread.  His appearance in a series of award-winning television and radio commercials encouraging parents to take their children for vaccination against the crippling disease played an important role in saving lives. 

Following the devastating tsunami in December, Mr. Bachchan appeared in a public service announcement on behalf of the victims and reminded people of their collective duty to protect and care for children, especially in times of crisis.

As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Bachchan's special areas of focus will be polio eradication and HIV/AIDS.  His role will include highlighting these issues with field visits, public appearances, and speaking out on behalf of children.

Mr. Bachchan is joining a select company of other public figures who have stood up for children, from the first Goodwill Ambassador Danny Kaye appointed in 1954 to the legendary Audrey Hepburn to the present day champions for children, Sir Roger Moore, Harry Belafonte and singer Angelique Kidjo, to name a few.

UNICEF staff greeted Mr. Bachchan and his wife, actor Jaya Bachchan, with a necklace of flowers at the door of UNICEF House in a traditional Indian welcome for honoured guests.  He then met with Ms. Bellamy and later signed a letter of commitment for a two-year assignment with the agency.

“I am thrilled to be named goodwill ambassador, this is a great honour for me,” said Mr. Bachchan.  “I truly hope I will be able to make a difference in children’s lives.”

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B-roll of the evening's event, including the traditional welcoming ceremony, remarks by Ms. Bellamy and Mr. Bachchan and the signing of the agreement will be made via APTN and Reuters.

For further information, please contact:
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, 212 326 7452, kdonovan@unicef.org




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