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UN Children's Fund

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© UNHCR / V. Vick


The UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, is the world's leading advocate for children's rights. Set up in 1946 to provide emergency food and health care to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II, UNICEF has helped millions of vulnerable children and mothers around the world.

The New York-based organization, which won the 1965 Nobel Peace Prize, works in almost 200 countries around the world. Today, UNICEF provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to vulnerable children and mothers. It focuses on five key areas: child survival and development; basic education and gender equality; child protection; children living with HIV/AIDs; and policy advocacy and partnerships for children's rights.

Millions of the world's forcibly displaced people are children, which means that UNHCR and UNICEF are natural partners. In 1996, they signed a memorandum of understanding, which underpins their relationship.

The sister agencies work together around the world, in protracted refugee situations as well as emergencies. They both promote protection, health care and education rights of displaced children, including refugees, the internally displaced and the stateless.

The two organizations work particularly closely in water and sanitation, child protection, and education projects. As example of the latter, UNHCR and UNICEF in 2007 launched a joint appeal for funds to ensure that tens of thousands of Iraqi refugee children in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon could go to school.