About UNICEF

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families.

Young girl in a classroom

Our Mission

A midwife teaches a mother to bathe her twin babies
UNICEF/Iran/1950
A midwife from the UNICEF-assisted maternal and child health centre in the city of Chiraq teaches a mother to bathe her twin babies, during a visit to the woman's home in Iran in 1950.
Camels carrying metal drums filled with UNICEF food supplies in 1954
UNICEF/State of Palestine/1954
Camels carrying metal drums filled with UNICEF food supplies in the State of Palestine in 1954.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

In all of its work, UNICEF takes a life-cycle based approach, recognizing the particular importance of early childhood development and adolescence. UNICEF programmes focus on the most disadvantaged children, including those living in fragile contexts, those with disabilities, those who are affected by rapid urbanization and those affected by environmental degradation.

UNICEF was created with a distinct purpose in mind: to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. We advocate for measures to give children the best start in life, because proper care at the youngest age forms the strongest foundation for a person’s future.

We involve everyone in creating protective environments for children. We are present to relieve suffering during emergencies, and wherever children are threatened, because no child should be exposed to violence, abuse or exploitation.

UNICEF upholds the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  We work to assure equality for those who are discriminated against, girls and women in particular. We work for the Millennium Development Goals and for the progress promised in the United Nations Charter. We strive for peace and security. We work to hold everyone accountable to the promises made for children.

We are part of the Global Movement for Children – a broad coalition dedicated to improving the life of every child.  Through this movement, and events such as the United Nations Special Session on Children, we encourage young people to speak out and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. 

Who We Are

The Regional Office is a hub for information, technical expertise, oversight and coordination for UNICEF Country Offices. It also supports these offices in their efforts to raise much-needed resources.

Specialist advisers based in Amman, Jordan help develop programmes in health and nutrition, child protection, adolescent development, education, water and sanitation, social policy and emergency preparedness.

They also provide technical oversight and support for financial management, communication, planning, and programme monitoring and evaluation.

This website provides information on what UNICEF does to advance the rights and well-being of children across the Middle East and North Africa. It also captures some of the highlights of the work being carried out by UNICEF’s Country Offices in the region.

Link to video on it's hosted site.
UNICEF
Founded in 1946 to provide life-saving support to the most vulnerable children in the aftermath of World War 2. We are the world’s largest children’s organization. We will do whatever it takes to protect children. Wherever they are. Whoever they are. Whenever they need us. And now, more than ever. #foreverychild, hope.

Regional Director

Geert Cappelaere

UNICEF MENA Regional Director shaking hands with a child
UNICEF/Iraq/2017/Anmar

Geert Cappelaere took up the post of UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa in October 2016.

Mr. Cappelaere joined UNICEF in 1999 and was, until August 2016, the UNICEF Representative in Sudan. He previously served as UNICEF Representative in Yemen (2009-2012) and Sierra Leone (2005 – 2009).

Prior to that, Mr. Cappelaere was Senior Child Protection Advisor at New York Headquarters (1999-2000), Senior Advisor for the Central and Eastern European Regional Office (2000-2002) and UNICEF's first Regional Child Protection Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa (2002-2005).

Before joining UNICEF, he was Chair of the Belgian Royal Commission on Child Abuse and Exploitation and affiliated to the University of Gent. He is author of a number of internationally renowned publications, including 'Children deprived of their Liberty: Rights and Realities'. He actively contributed to the drafting of several international legal instruments in the area of child protection and children’s rights.

Fluent in English, French and Dutch, Mr. Cappelaere holds a Doctorandus in criminology and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and education sciences from the University of Gent.