Our Story 

For Every Child

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

Before, during and after humanitarian emergencies. UNICEF is on the ground, bringing lifesaving help and hope to children and families.

And we never give up.

UNICEF was founded in December 1946, following a unanimous vote at the first session of the UN General Assembly. The mission of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, as it was then known, was to provide short-term relief to children in post-World War II Europe.

Then as now, UNICEF was entirely funded by voluntary contributions and continually works to protect the right’s of children around the word.

Nutrition and Life-Saving Therapeutic Food

UNICEF first mission was to provide short-term emergency care to children after the war. Specifically, UNICEF provided milk rations, vitamins and cod-liver oil to malnourished children.

These simple ingredients helped prevent mass starvation in post-war Europe and saved millions of lives. After the war, UNICEF concentrated its efforts on food, clothing, and health needs of children affected by war.

At a cost of $112,000,000, UNICEF clothing to five million children in twelve countries vaccinated eight million against tuberculosis, rebuilt milk processing and distribution facilities, and, at the climax of its effort in Europe, provided a daily supplementary meal to more than 6 million children.

Because of our ongoing work in post-war Europe, UNICEF became known as the “milkman of the world”. Famous actress, Audrey Hepburn was one of the children who benefitted from UNICEF’s work.

Once the immediate post-war needs of Europe’s children had been seen to, UNICEF continued to work for children’s rights around the world.

By the time UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations in 1953, the seven-year-old organisation was active in more than 100 countries.

Vaccinations and Medical Care

By 1948 the first mass disease control programme started, with mass vaccinations delivered to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. In time, diseases like leprosy and malaria were also included in UNICEF’s vaccination programme.

Soon a focus on maternal health and childbirth programmes followed. We began setting up training programmes for mothers in newborn care, child nutrition and home improvement.

In addition, UNICEF also put into place creche services and child-care centres, as well as youth clubs and counselling services for those in need. 

Water and Sanitation

Clean water is essential for promoting and safeguarding the health of children around the world. In areas of emergency of conflict, it’s dirty water which can actually be the biggest killer.

Today, dirty water needlessly kills almost 1,000 children per day.

The majority of us take our access to clean safe drinking water for granted. But for many children, this is a luxury they’re not afforded.

However, we can help change this. UNICEF works in over 190 countries around the world to help provide clean, safe drinking water to children.

When disaster strikes, UNICEF is on the ground and ready to distribute water sanitation tablets and hygiene kits to children and their families. These kits will have everything they need to protect themselves from disease.

Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have been provided with clean drinking water. This kind of help is only possible thanks to the help of people like you.

Child Rights Advocacy

In 1990, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted and has gone on to be the most universally adopted international treaty in history.

The convention is an almost world-wide agreement, which clearly identifies and states the rights that all children should have or be able to do. All children, no matter their gender, nationality, should have the same rights.

With the Convention on the Rights of the Child as our mandate, we will continue to fight for the rights of every child.

Support Our Work

Our work is entirely funded through voluntary contributions.

If you’d like to help us continue our work, please consider signing up to monthly donations and become a Global Parent.