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UNICEF teams up with writers for children’s rights

Michael Astor
Associated Press

United Nations — The United Nations Children’s Fund has teamed up with over 200 prominent writers from around the globe to commemorate Universal Children’s Day.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday that novelists, playwrights and poets have contributed tiny stories of around seven lines each for the campaign ahead of UNICEF’s 70th anniversary on Dec. 11.

Nigeria’s Chimamanda Adichie, Brazil’s Paulo Coelho and Britain’s Christina Lamb were among the authors who contributed stories on the theme: “What I want from every child.”

The weeklong campaign, which was conceptualized by Finnish first lady Jenni Haukio, ends on Nov. 20 — the anniversary of the adoption of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, celebrated as Universal Children’s Day.

“As writers we are able to advocate through the simplicity of storytelling. With this worthy and necessary campaign, we advocate for the protection of the rights of precious children all over the world,” Adichie said in a statement.

Lamb tells the story of playing Cat’s Cradle with an Afghan girl who has fled the Taliban and now lives in a camp on a Greek island “which is sunny and safe,” but she can’t leave.

“I take the string between my fingertips and manage a simple back and forth and she takes it back smiling and with a skillful move fashions a string butterfly. But when she passes it again and I try to make a Jacob’s Ladder, it has been too many years and the string gets tangled and she walks away a sad princess,” Lamb writes in her story.

The campaign comes at a time when UNICEF says 50 million children have been uprooted from their homes due to conflict, poverty and climate change and 263 million children are out of school.

“It is shocking to see that the lives of many children are still so heavily impacted by the horror of conflict, inequality, poverty and discrimination. I hope these Tiny Stories can remind the world that we must sustain our commitment to all of these children whose lives and futures are at stake,” UNICEF spokeswoman Paloma Escudero said in a statement.