Leading cricketer, Rashid Khan, was on Wednesday announced as UNICEF Afghanistan’s National Ambassador.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in a statement said in his role, 20-year-old Khan will help UNICEF to promote girls’ education, tackle malnutrition, eradicate polio and improve child immunisation rates.
“It is an honour to be named as UNICEF Afghanistan’s National Ambassador,” said Khan. “I have always wanted to be involved in improving children’s lives by contributing to issues pertaining to health, education and nutrition; and UNICEF provides me a great platform to do so. I am eagerly looking forward to this association and hope we can make a change for a better tomorrow.”
The announcement comes after four decades of conflict in Afghanistan, and as the world comes together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Rashid Khan to the UNICEF family today,” said UNICEF Afghanistan Representative Adele Khodr. “Rashid’s already demonstrated commitment to children will be a compelling and valuable asset to both UNICEF and the children of Afghanistan, who continue to dream and hope, without which human kind will be lost. At UNICEF, we believe that investing in the wellbeing, education and protection of children today is key for a peaceful, stable and progressive Afghanistan.”
UNICEF further added that despite the significant progress in recent years, 3.7 million children remain out of school in Afghanistan, 2.2 million of which are girls. At the same time, malnutrition levels remain high with 600,000 children under the age of five suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and some 2 million children stunted (short for their age due to malnutrition), greatly impacting their cognitive development.
According to UNICEF, Mr Khan comes with a strong passion for promoting the wellbeing of children, especially the most disadvantaged. Rashid Khan has been involved in the cause of children and the work of UNICEF for almost two years, especially in promoting the eradication of polio.
At the age of 19, Rashid Khan broke the record for the youngest team captain in men’s international cricket history. In January 2018, he was awarded the Associate Cricketer of the year by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and in February of the same year, he became the youngest player to top the ICC Player Rankings for bowlers in One Day Internationals (ODIs), and also topped the ICC Player Rankings for bowlers in Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).
As a National Ambassador, Mr. Khan is part of an esteemed UNICEF tradition, dating back to 1954, in which the organization partners with local artists, athletes and other celebrities to raise public awareness about children’s issues and to improve the lives of children and women around the world.