NEW YORK, June 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Janet Jackson, GRAMMY® Award-winning and Oscar® nominated artist, entertainer and actor is lending her talent and powerful voice to support UNICEF in providing humanitarian assistance in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa, where 1.4 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition, a potentially deadly condition if left untreated.
"We are all facing a silent emergency. So many children are at risk of losing their lives in the Sahel region of Africa because they don't have food to eat," said Jackson. "We must act now to save and protect children at risk from malnutrition—not just in emergencies —but for today and forever. I commit my heart, my love, and my resources to this effort. With your help and the leadership of UNICEF, we will bring change to West and Central Africa."
Jackson will be appearing in a Public Service Announcement and take to Twitter and Facebook with a message that children in the hard-hit Sahel region and across the globe can—and must—have access to proper food and other basic necessities to save and improve their lives. UNICEF has appealed for $248 million for this year to address the needs of children affected by chronic drought, rising food prices, and conflict in the semi-arid Sahel, a belt of land south of the Sahara desert. To view the PSA, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Za7EM6hd8
UNICEF's response in the area focuses on providing immediate support to the most vulnerable children, including life-saving therapeutic food, basic health services, and clean water to help safeguard against infectious diseases and diarrhea. Last year, 800,000 children's lives were saved from severe malnutrition in the Sahel. It was the largest intervention of its kind in the history of the region, which encompasses the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon, The Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal.
Globally, under-nutrition contributes to more than a third of deaths among children under the age of five. The physical and cognitive damage caused by not receiving enough of the right type of nutrients, especially in the first two years of life, is permanent. Lifelong physical and mental effects can include stunting, blindness, weakened immune systems, mental retardation, and other disabilities. While the damage cannot be treated, it can be prevented by providing expectant mothers, newborns and very young children with nutrients such as proteins, fat, and vitamins; and minerals such as vitamin A, iron, and zinc.
"We must reject a world where children continue to die from hunger, in the 21st century, when we know that we have the resources to ensure that all children receive the right nutrition," said Jackson. "I believe in a world where there are ZERO children dying of malnutrition and other preventable causes. That is why I will raise awareness and support for the lifesaving solutions that are available, and my promise to all children is to make sure that people around the world are listening and participating in the change that must happen. UNICEF is the best possible partner for this change. It is powerful to join them in this program."
Janet Jackson is a leading advocate in HIV/AIDS research and serves as an ambassador for amfAR. She is an iconic figure in popular culture. A six-time GRAMMY winner who has sold more than 100 million records, Jackson is one of the best-selling artists in the history of music. She is known for a series of innovative and socially conscious records, intricate choreography, as well as roles in television and films. She is an award winning writer, including her number one New York Times best selling book, "True You," which reveals her private struggles with nutrition and self-esteem. "I understand what it means to starve intentionally. I understand what it means to eat obsessively. My battles with weight and self-esteem are so personal and yet the media has made them very public. I feel called upon to bring food and love to children who don't have any," said Jackson.
How to help: For more information on the crisis in the Sahel or to make a tax-deductible contribution to UNICEF's relief efforts, please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038
As with any emergency, in the event that donations exceed anticipated needs, USF will redirect any excess funds to children in greatest need.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children's lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.
SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF