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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Leo Messi visits Haiti to highlight plight of children six months after the earthquake

2010-07-15

Port au Prince, HAITI, 15 July 2010 – Leo Messi, FC Barcelona and Argentina national team renowned soccer player completed his first field visit since he was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in March to highlight the milestones and challenges faced by children in Haiti.

The one-day visit took Messi to Carrefour Aviation, a camp where 50,000 Haitians who lost their homes during the 12 January earthquake now live in tents.

Messi also visited the Argentinean contingent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and heard first-hand about their experience operating a field hospital after the earthquake. He then joined UNICEF staff at their office and spoke to them about the many challenges they face as they work to assist the Haitian government and its people after the disaster that claimed 220,00 lives and left the capital in ruins. 

Messi’s relatively short career has taken him to the summit of world football.  He was named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009, a year in which he also won the Golden Ball award for the best European footballer of the year.  During the World Cup which ended last week in South Africa Messi and the Argentinean team were able to reach the quarter finals. But today Messi played a different role was in Haiti determined to use his fame to help the world’s most vulnerable children.

There are few places in the world today where children are as vulnerable as Haiti. Despite some progress over 1.2 million children in this country are exposed to exploitation and abuse; 800,000 live in tents in spontaneous sites where they lack adequate sanitation and have limited access to safe water; education and health facilities.

UNICEF and the larger humanitarian community are working tirelessly alongside the Haitian government to provide ongoing support to these children and to ensure that Haiti recovers and is a country where all children grow up with access to the full range of services they need to survive, thrive and become positive agents of change in the development of their country.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause.  UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.