The brutality of World War II led to devastation around the globe and made millions refugees, who could little more than scrounge the ruins of destroyed towns and cities. A Polish epidemiologist, Dr. Ludwik Rajchman, had seen the destruction and despair that war caused for civilians and particularly for children when he had served as a League of Nations adviser to the Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek. His own country of Poland had been devastated by the war as well and he decided that someone had to stand up for the voiceless millions of displaced persons. This led him to advocate for the newly formed United Nations to create an emergency fund to protect children in 1946. This organization became known as the United Nations Children’s International Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and immediately sought to aid those children in Europe and Asia by representing them in international forums and supplying them with aid. Importantly, UNICEF held itself responsible to not hold caveats for where the aid would go and its first programs took place not only in the countries that were victors, but also in the the defeated Axis nations.
UNICEF’s early success was in part based on the work of the humanitarian and former US President, Herbert Hoover. Having assembled one of the greatest humanitarian relief funds during World War I, Hoover took it upon himself to organize the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1943 to help those under occupation. The UNRRA, through the tireless work of Hoover and his staff, collected a budget of $2.7 billion and helped the 11,000,000 displaced refugees in Europe return safely to their countries. The organization’s success and funding helped establish UNICEF, as several leaders and departments of the UNRRA would join the organization after the UNRRA’s dissolution.
UNICEF has only expanded since it first took on the role of providing aid packages and care to children. It provides superior medical care, vaccinations, developmental aid and possibly most important of all- education. Today, the organization has become one of the most respected international institutions and many would not believe that it was close to being shutdown in the early 1950s. Remarkable men and women have followed the initiative of Rajchman and Hoover. Leaders such as Malala Yousafzai are exemplars of what happens when you give a voice to those who are not heard. The New Millennium Journal is a forum in which students can discuss their opinions about development, crises, international politics, and their own experiences all in the purpose of looking towards a brighter future. We wish to invite everyone, regardless of education and background, to be a part of this project and share their creative ideas.
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