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David Beckham urges world leaders to transform children's lives

Former England footballer David Beckham has urged world leaders to transform the lives of millions of children by putting them at the centre of their development agenda.

At an event in New York, Beckham, who has been a Unicef goodwill ambassador for 10 years, said: "It breaks my heart to see the struggles that children and young people across the world face every day.

"I've met children and mothers in South Africa living with HIV, I've met children living in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and I've met children who have experienced violence in Cambodia. Whatever challenges they face, they all share the same hope for a better future.

"I want a world where children can grow up safe from war, violence, poverty and preventable disease - a world where every child has a fair chance. I hope everyone will join me in asking world leaders to put children, especially the most disadvantaged, at the heart of the new global goals."

Beckham urged world leaders to transform the lives of millions of children by putting the most disadvantaged children and young people at the centre of all decisions and investments in the new 15-year development agenda.

He took part in the unveiling of a "digital installation" created for Unicef by Google, which harnesses mobile technology and social media to deliver personal messages from young people across the globe directly to the leaders.

The messages highlight the challenges they face in their homes and communities - including extreme poverty, inequality, violence, deadly disease and conflict - and express their hopes for the future.

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who also took part in the event, said: "The voices of young people helped forge the bold new 2030 agenda. Now the world must do more to involve young people in achieving the goals and building a world of peace, prosperity and justice for all on a healthy planet."

Beckham showed his emotions as he told one story "that really affected me".

He spoke quietly and intensely as he related how a mother and father in the Philippines had told him how during the typhoon they were on the roof trying to protect themselves, and the father had the two young girls, Venus and Viana, in his arms, but he was knocked off the roof by a wave.

He woke up six hours later holding one of the girls.

"A day and a half later, unfortunately, Viana was found face down, and unfortunately she had died," Beckham said.

"This was one of the most devastating stories that I heard.

"But then I saw the great work Unicef were doing by rebuilding houses, rebuilding families, rebuilding schools. Rebuilding schools gave Venus and the rest of the children in the village a bit of normality.

"That story will never leave me."


From Belfast Telegraph