Learn to Live: Carey Mulligan highlights children caught in war zones as she visits UN

'I think the campaign is brilliant. The more we can do to understand people in all different walks of life gives perspective on the world and really builds empathy'

Anna Davis
Wednesday 26 September 2018 10:51 BST
Mulligan is supporting The Independent's campaign to twin London children with those in war zones
Mulligan is supporting The Independent's campaign to twin London children with those in war zones

Hollywood star Carey Mulligan went to the United Nations in New York yesterday to campaign for help for children caught up in conflicts, saying The Independent’s Learn to Live appeal had put the subject back on the news agenda.

Mulligan, who is supporting our campaign to twin London children with those in war zones, joined War Child bosses to meet political leaders attending the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly after saying that our appeal had highlighted the importance of the issue.

She said: “I think the campaign is brilliant. The more we can do to understand people in all different walks of life gives perspective on the world and really builds empathy.

“We are all stuck in our own lives and it’s fair to say there is a lot going on for everyone.”

She added: “People are sitting on the tube and reading these stories when they might not otherwise.

“That’s why this campaign is so exciting. It will be particularly important in the cases of Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo where these conflicts have been going on for so long they are not part of the daily news cycle.

“This is bringing them back into people’s minds.”

The Learn to Live campaign aims to increase empathy and understanding between children from different backgrounds. The pupils will carry out joint projects and learn about different cultures and ways of life.

Mulligan said: “I have a romantic idea about penpals – there is something wonderful about having the ability to connect with someone you have never met.

“This is a variation of that. Children have an extraordinary ability for empathy and understanding. As adults we become closed off. I am really excited.”

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She said knowing that other children are thinking of them will give young people in war zones great comfort. She added that it takes “a great deal of hope and courage and inner strength” to spend year after year in a refugee camp.

For the London children taking part in the project she said: “I think it will be a bit challenging and eye opening. It would have been for me when I was that age... It is important and really enlightening.”

Mulligan is a global ambassador for War Child and in her role has visited refugee camps in Jordan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She said the camp in Goma in DRC was “one of the worst places I have ever been in my whole life. It was an unbelievable, shocking, eye opening experience. Two children had died that week of malnutrition. It was just horrendous.”

But she was impressed that the War Child workers spoke directly to the children there, asking what they needed to make them feel safe.

She added: “That is representative of the charity as a whole.

“The thing that always struck me, which is why this campaign is perfect for their approach, is War Child has always been focused on what the children think of their experiences.

“A lot of time people in these appalling situations with good intentions come and do everything they can to help, but are not able to see what the children really need.

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“I am so proud of getting to work with them. This work is really, really, really crucial and – I feel – specific to this charity.”

She added that the campaign is an “amazing opportunity to take advantage of that youthful optimism and generosity that children have.

“If we could all have done that we might have a different view of the world.”

Rob Williams, the CEO of War Child UK, said the visit to the United Nations General Assembly was crucial as it enabled the messages being highlighted in the The Independent and Evening Standard campaign to be raised with world figures.

“The Learn to Live Campaign is providing a crucial platform for War Child to fulfil one of our promises to the children we support – to ensure that their voices and wishes are shared with those who have the power to make a real difference to their lives. We’re incredibly grateful to our partners at both the Evening Standard and The Independent for elevating such an important issue, and it’s fantastic to be here in New York with our Global Ambassador Carey Mulligan to raise the needs of these children with the highest international powers.” he said.

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