South Shields Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall partners with Unicef to learn about war in Yemen, the country of her grandfather
Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall has met a teenager from Yemen to get an insight into the war-torn country of the singer’s ancestors.
Jade’s grandfather moved to the UK in 1943 from Yemen, and became part of South Shields’ thriving Yemeni community.
The singer has partnered with Unicef UK to learn more about the ongoing conflict in the Middle Eastern nation.
She met 17-year-old Somaya, who is from Yemen, to discuss the civil war, life for young women and girls, and the work children's charity Unicef is doing in the country.
"It was a pleasure to speak to Somaya and I am grateful to Unicef UK for giving us the opportunity to have such a special conversation,” said Jade.
"It is so important to hear from the people who are impacted by the conflict in Yemen and Somaya is the perfect example of a determined, remarkable young woman doing all she can to give a voice to the children who have been impacted.”
She added: "The coronavirus pandemic has showed us that now, more than ever, we need to care for each other.
"Somaya's wish for a future where every child can fulfil their dreams and potential was inspirational, and I am honoured to use my platform to amplify her story."
Somaya said: "I hope that the war and coronavirus will end soon so we can return to our normal lives.
"I hope that kids in the future will not suffer like we do, and peace will find its way back. That is my hope for Yemen.
"We sometimes lose hope, but I know things will get better and I am grateful for what I do have.
"I am in my last year of school and lucky to have the opportunity to get an education, while many other girls in Yemen enter early marriages or are made to stay at home."
Unicef described Yemen as “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world”, with more than 24million people – some 80%of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children.
The charity said since the conflict escalated in March 2015, the country has “become a living hell for the country’s children”, with the covid pandemic worsening the situation in the country.
Sanitation and clean water are in short supply, and only half of the country’s health facilities are functioning.
:: To donate to Unicef's appeal for children in Yemen, visit unicef.org.uk/yemen.