UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow has travelled to Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to visit UNICEF's life-saving work for children and to promote efforts to wipe out polio.
Monday 13 February - It’s been two years since my last visit to Mao, a sand-smothered town in the belt of the Sahel region of West Africa.
People here used to farm and raise animals but all that has changed. The rains haven’t fallen in years. Four seasons of crops have failed. The animals are dying and the children too. The world hears little about the emergency in the Sahel, but as I type these words, 1.1 million children are facing starvation. Without immediate help there is no hope.
Mia Farrow cradles an acutely malnourished baby girl at a UNICEF-supported feeding centre in Mao. © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0045/Olivier Asselin
After visiting emaciated babies in an emergency medical centre it felt good to see the warehouse where UNICEF has stocked three months' worth of life-saving therapeutic foods. But three months isn’t going to be enough. These most vulnerable children are easy prey for diseases including measles, meningitis, cholera and polio.
Mia talks with staff at a UNICEF supply warehouse in Mao, Chad. © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0047/Olivier Asselin
While in Chad, I will attend the launch of a national polio vaccination campaign with partners committed to eradicating this crippling disease, including Rotary, the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Chadian Red Cross.
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Mia Farrow is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador