Tom talks child protection with young campaigners

A couple of days ago, a group of young campaigners at the Hampstead School in London put their questions to actor Tom Hiddleston and Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening about the UK’s role in keeping children safe in humanitarian emergencies, as part of our ongoing campaign. Our gallery has been updated with images from the event, and you can read the official UNICEF post below.

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“Children are facing more devastating wars and disasters than ever before,” said Tom, a Unicef UK Ambassador. “I have seen for myself in South Sudan that children are the hardest hit in emergencies. Children have been killed, orphaned, forced to become soldiers, kidnapped, and traumatised.”

Pupils shared what they thought the priorities should be in the lead up to the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in less than three weeks’ time. Top of their minds was the refugee crisis, protecting schools in war zones, and ensuring children’s rights and voices are recognised, regardless of their situation or background.

Last year the students had been involved in OutRight – a week of activities around Universal Children’s Day celebrating and promoting children’s rights – where they looked at how children’s rights are affected by humanitarian emergencies. Today, they were handing letters and drawings from OutRight participants across the country to Justine, on behalf of the UK Government, to prioritise protecting children in emergencies.

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(Photo) UNICEF’s new World Upside Down campaign

Tom, Emma Bunton, Robbie Williams, Ewan McGregor, Michael Sheen and other celebrities, UNICEF’s ambassadors, have appeared in a very powerful photograph showing their support for Unicef’s new World Upside Down campaign.

Tom HiddlestonUsually pictured in the field, the celebrities are seen where the emergency relief starts – in one of the warehouse hubs storing the life-saving supplies that can be shipped around the world within 48 hours.

“It breaks my heart to think of what some children must be going through,” said Emma, who has two children with partner Jade Jones. “As we approach Christmas, many of us are thinking of what gifts to buy our children and warehouses will be full of parcels ready to be sent out. For millions of children around the world this winter, presents are a distant dream.”

When an emergency hits, children’s worlds are turned upside down. Unicef provides blankets, vaccines, clean water and its school-in-a-box, which is, Robbie says: “Literally a box that contains everything that’s needed to teach 40 pupils – from notebooks to pens, rulers, felt tips, inflatable globes, portable blackboards and chalks.”

“Schools give children a sense of normality following a natural disaster,” Robbie, who has been a Unicef ambassador since 2001, said.

Text BLANKET to 70800 to give £3 and help provide a thermal blanket to keep a Syrian child warm this winter. Until 31 January, the government will double your donation. Visit Unicef.org.uk. Texts cost £3 plus one standard rate SMS. Unicef receives 100 per cent of your donation.

Source: Hello! Magazine

Tom writes about South Sudan for The Independent

Tom has recently written a great article for The Independent about the children in South Sudan. Read it below.

Tom Hiddleston in South Sudan: Children deserve a chance of a childhood

In conflict and crises, it is children who are hardest hit. I saw this for myself in South Sudan, on a visit to the country with Unicef earlier this year. South Sudan is a forgotten war, which strikes children with unforgivable brutality. Rape, forced recruitment and attacks on schools are becoming a daily part of their childhood.

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011, and has been riven by political and civil conflict since December 2013. The major cities have become war zones, with civilians fleeing to relative safety in rural areas. So many people, so many innocent children: displaced, desperate, starving.

The day before I was due to fly to South Sudan – in February this year – Unicef announced that at least 89 boys had been abducted while they were preparing to sit their school exams in Wau Shilluk, in Upper Nile state. These boys, some as young as 13, had been forcibly conscripted into armed militia.

Continue reading Tom writes about South Sudan for The Independent