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Soccer star Leo Messi visits Haiti to highlight children’s plight

16th July 2010 Posted in: Press Releases, Emergencies
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UNICEF Ambassador Lionel Messi (centre) greets children at the UNICEF office in Port-au-Prince.
UNICEF Ambassador Lionel Messi (centre) greets children at the UNICEF office in Port-au-Prince.
UNICEF Ambassador Leo Messi has visited Haiti to highlight the milestones and challenges faced by children six months after the earthquake.

Messi is a world renowned soccer player with FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team.

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 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.

He also visited the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti and heard first-hand about their experience operating a field hospital after the earthquake.

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.

As a new UNICEF Ambassador, Messi was keen to use his celebrity status to highlight the situation of children in Haiti.

There are few places in the world today where children are as vulnerable as Haiti. Despite significant progress, many Haiti children remain 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. It is essential 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.

Much work still needs to be done in Haiti. You can help by donating to UNICEF.

Are you mad keen on soccer? Help children in the developing world by buying a UNICEF Soccer Ball Inspired Gift.
Read more about Leo Messi.