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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Johann Koss to Visit Sudan

KHARTOUM/AMMAN/NEW YORK, 25 April 2006 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Johann Koss, the four-time Olympic gold medal speed skater from Norway, will visit Sudan from April 30 to May 4.  His trip will highlight the situation of the children in difficult conditions in the camps for displaced people near the capital, Khartoum, as well as the progress being made in Southern Sudan as the result of the comprehensive peace agreement signed in January 2005.

Due to years of conflict and drought in Sudan, it is estimated that approximately two million displaced people, mostly from Southern Sudan, are living in extremely poor conditions in camps near Khartoum.  Approximately 60 per cent are children under the age of 18.  Many displaced families are making their way back to Southern Sudan, where social services are very limited.

Koss will visit one of the camps, speak with the children and youth groups as well as meet with the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, members of the humanitarian community and the press. 

A strenuous and highly-visible advocate for UNICEF’s work on behalf of children, Koss has emphasized the particular needs of children with disabilities and children affected by war.

In Sudan, Koss will visit schools, water points, and clinics. UNICEF recently launched the ‘Go to School’ initiative in Southern Sudan that aims to get hundreds of thousands of children into school for the first time this year.

In addition to his work for UNICEF, Koss serves as the President and CEO of Right to Play, an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a tool for development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world.  He has been an active leader with UNICEF in the growing sport for development movement, which recognizes that well-designed sport-based initiatives incorporating the best values of sport can be powerful, practical and cost-effective tools to achieve development and peace objectives.

Born and raised in Norway, Johann Olav Koss has had an extraordinary career as a speed-skater, winning three gold medals at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and a gold and a silver medal in Albertville two years prior.   He was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1994 and is one of 27 global Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF.

For more information on Johann Koss and his work with UNICEF, visit:  https://www.unicef.org/people/people_johann_olav_koss.html

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 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 further information on the visit of Mr. Koss to Sudan, please contact:

Roshan Khadivi in Khartoum; +249-9121-77 291, rkhadivi@unicef.org
Ben Parker in Juba; +882-1651-101-889, bparker@unicef.org
Wolfgang Friedl in Amman; +962-795-732745, wfriedl@unicef.org
Kate Donovan in New York; +1-212-326-7452, kdonovan@unicef.org




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