Neeson made goodwill ambassador


Liam Neeson has become the first Irish person to be appointed an international Unicef goodwill ambassador.

The Oscar-nominated actor, best known for roles in Schindler’s List and Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace, has worked with Unicef Ireland since 1997.

He was the public face of the Change for Good partnership between Unicef Ireland and Aer Lingus between 1997 and 2007 - an initiative designed to collect unused currency from passengers and convert their spare coins and notes into services for vulnerable children around the world.

Most recently, Neeson has been supporting Unicef's "Believe in Zero" campaign in Ireland and the United States. This campaign highlights the plight of the eight million children who are not reaching their fifth birthday every year and is raising urgently needed funding for Unicef's child survival programmes.

"Liam Neeson is not only a passionate dramatic actor, he is a deeply compassionate humanitarian actor," said  Unicef executive director Anthony Lake. "Unicef is very lucky that he is choosing to use his time and talent to support the world's most vulnerable children, and we thank him for accepting this new role as Unicef goodwill ambassador."

Neeson said he was  "deeply honoured" by the appointment. "I am committed to working with Unicef to help children overcome poverty, violence, disease and discrimination across the world."

Other goodwill ambassadors include the late Audrey Hepburn, Sir Roger Moore, Vanessa Redgrave and, more recently, Lionel Messi and Orlando Bloom.

"One of the reasons I'm proud to be associated with Unicef is because Unicef is working to reduce the number of children who die every day from preventable causes. It is shocking to me that in this day and age, 22,000 children are still dying every day for want of the most basic things like clean water to drink, a safe place to live or access to medicines when they are sick. I am determined to do whatever I can to help Unicef."

As a Unicef goodwill ambassador, Neeson will continue to raise awareness about the issues that affect the lives of children and their right to have access to basic health care, primary education, protection and a safe environment.

Neeson lives in New York with his two sons.