MSC Cruises S.A., has announced today that it has raised more than €6.5 million (approx. $6.9 million) to-date for UNICEF, thanks to the generous contributions of its guests. The funds raised are used to provide malnourished children with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) such as Plumpy’ Nut®. Thus far, more than two million sachets of RUTF have been delivered to children in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Malawi. The Company has also recently dispatched six containers containing over 22,000 much-needed supplies to contribute towards the relief effort in Malawi.
“We are delighted to have reached this new contribution milestone, thanks to the generosity of our guests. As a family-run Company, we care deeply about the wellbeing of families around the world,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman at MSC Cruises. “Through the funds raised onboard our ships, thanks to our ‘Get on Board for Children’ initiative, we are able to provide life-saving food to severely malnourished children around the world, where and when most needed.”
MSC Cruises and UNICEF have worked in partnership since 2009 and together established the global initiative to assist malnourished children in developing countries and those affected by crises. Through encouraging MSC Cruises’ guests fleet wide to make contributions to UNICEF, more than 6,300 children have been treated in Somalia, over 9,400 in both South Sudan and Ethiopia and, most recently, over 41,500 in Malawi. With multiple challenges such as food shortages, flooding, stagnant economies and prolonged droughts, the need for food aid in these countries is enormous, especially for children. Through this long-standing partnership, MSC Cruises and UNICEF have helped to feed nearly 67,000 children and their families since 2014. In Malawi, 54,053 cases of severe acute malnutrition have been recorded this year. As the only corporate partner in the country, MSC Cruises has worked tirelessly to support the area, helping UNICEF to reach over 40% of Malawi’s severely malnourished children.
The generosity of MSC Cruises guests has been magnified by an additional donation of more than 22,000 essential items delivered directly to Malawi, one of the poorest regions served by the relief effort. The six shipping containers will arrive on an MSC cargo ship this month and provide essential goods including mattresses and bed sheets, bicycles, cooking pots, bowls and spoons, and farming tools as well as chalkboards, school pencils, drawing books, toys and puppets for the children.
“Earlier this year, when I visited the UNICEF program in Malawi, I was able to see for myself how we are able to impact the lives of so many children, and I came back even more committed to the very important partnership that we run with UNICEF,” continued Mr. Vago.
UNICEF’s decision to focus aid in Malawi is driven by the region’s increasingly vulnerable state, explained Elisabeth Muller, executive director of UNICEF Switzerland. “After a long period of drought in 2014, Malawi was devastated by severe flooding in early 2015 that submerged villages and wiped away homes, crops and livestock. These weather conditions have combined with one of the most powerful El Niño events in 50 years to wreak havoc on the lives of the most vulnerable children. They have increased children’s vulnerability to under nutrition and have led to the worst food security crisis in Malawi in over a decade.”
“Malawi is currently experiencing its worst crisis of food insecurity in over a decade with 6.5 million people, including 3.5 million children, currently affected and in need of food assistance in 24 districts. The nutrition situation of children under the age of five years in Malawi is already very fragile with a significant risk to further deterioration as a result of the food insecurity crisis. Severe acute malnutrition is the most dangerous form of malnutrition and is currently affecting 100,000 children. These children – especially those below the age of two – run a high risk of dying of the effects of malnutrition,” added Muller.
In order to bring an increased number of children into treatment programs, UNICEF is conducting mass screenings for malnutrition in children under the age of five across 15 districts, reaching 100% of Malawi. These screenings will also help raise awareness about the prevalence of malnourishment within the communities.
In the meantime, to continue to educate MSC Cruises’ guests onboard about UNICEF’s work and the needs of children around the world, MSC Cruises organizes “edutainment” activities for children and their parents. Each week, the ships’ programs include activities like a dedicated UNICEF Day with fun games and a children’s parade, where participating kids receive a leaflet to teach them about malnutrition around the world. They also receive a UNICEF World Citizen passport that is stamped after each educational activity is completed, making them an ambassador for the rights of children across the globe.
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, with 70 years’ experience in development co-operation and emergency relief, works towards ensuring the survival and wellbeing of children worldwide. Its remit includes health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, as well as the protection of children against abuse, exploitation, violence, and AIDS. UNICEF is active in more than 190 countries and territories. This significant fundraising milestone is a testament to the ongoing commitment of MSC Cruises and their guests to help continue to make a positive impact through the “Get on Board for Children” initiative.