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UNICEF Ambassador, Pau Gasol, returns from Iraq

“I met children who have fled from a tragic situation in Syria and now depend on urgent humanitarian aid…”

Dohuk, Iraq / Barcelona, 30 July 2013 – Pau Gasol, two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and UNICEF Spanish Committee Ambassador since 2003, has returned today from visiting Syrian refugees in Iraq.

“I met children who have fled from a tragic situation in Syria and now depend on urgent humanitarian aid to save their lives and give them an opportunity to build a new life,” stated Gasol.

To date, more than 1.8 million people -- of which around 50 per cent are children -- have fled the war in Syria into neighbouring countries, including over 160,000 into Iraq.

In Iraq, Pau met a number of children including a 10-year-old boy named Sulinam who told him, “In Syria, our shop was destroyed. I want the war to end there so that I can return home and my brothers and sisters and I can go back to school.”

“It’s so shocking to see what some of the hundreds of thousands of children who have been affected by the conflict in Syria have experienced,” said Gasol. “No child should experience such violence and destruction and be deprived of the basic services that they need to grow and develop to fulfill their potential.”

Some of the UNICEF programmes that Pau Gasol saw include: the provision of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities, primary education, health care, and child protection services.

To date inside Syria and in neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees, UNICEF has provided around 10 million people with access to safe water, more than 2.4 million children with vaccinations against measles and 268,000 with access to education, among other responses.

“Providing these services is a huge job,” said Gasol. “While we can see some good results, the needs are enormous. So much more help is needed.”

The humanitarian crisis related to the Syria conflict is unprecedented with the UN having made its largest ever humanitarian appeal as well as making desperate calls to governments around the world to find an immediate end to the humanitarian tragedy.

The continually increasing number of people in need of assistance is stretching UNICEF’s resources.

UNICEF still needs nearly 159 million euros to continue to provide the essential services Syrian children require to recover from the conflict and displacement they have experienced, be healthy and adequately grow and develop.

More information on the crisis in Syria:

Donate to help UNICEF meet the urgent needs of these children: www.unicef.org

Pau Gasol and UNICEF

Iraq is the fifth country Pau Gasol has visited as an ambassador for UNICEF. The first trip was in 2005 to South Africa where he visited an HIV and AIDS project. A similar visit to Angola followed in 2007. His third trip was in 2010 to Ethiopia, where he decided to become personally involved with the Pau Project through Schools for Africa, an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, UNICEF and Peter Kramer Foundation for children's schooling. Pau Project has been reflected in a documentary produced by laSexta and since its inception has, among other achievements, helped 12,000 children return to school and 160 teachers and 15,000 parents trained. Apart from its direct link with Ethiopia, Pau Project has driven campaigns and initiatives for child survival and development, particularly in support of UNICEF's nutrition and health programs for the prevention of malnutrition and action in humanitarian crises as the Horn of Africa (2011) and the Sahel (2012). Pau Gasol collaborates with UNICEF both in Spain and in the United States where he lives.

More information on Pau Gasol’s work with UNICEF:

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

Attention editors and broadcasters: Please check the following link where assets will be added as they become available: http://weshare.unicef.org/MediaResources

For more information, please contact:
Dailo Alli
UNICEF Spanish Comittee
(+34) 609 160 051
(+34) 91 378 85 91




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