Cannes Lions

UNICEF Unfairy Tales - Malak and Mustafa One Year Later

180LA, Los Angeles / UNICEF / 2017







The Western media depicts refugees as a monolith of suffering. We see gut-wrenching images of leveled buildings, and women and children wailing in foreign tongues, yet that’s where our interaction with these people ends; they are nameless and unfortunate. We set out to put a name and experience to these nameless faces. We followed up with two of our protagonists, Malak and Mustafa, who have resettled in Germany, to demonstrate the breadth of an act of humanity. While the Syrian Crisis shows no signs of relief, we are offered a glimmer of hope with these two stories. Although Malak and Mustafa still have unimaginable obstacles to face, there is hope as long as we have empathy.


We interviewed the children directly after their journeys and a few months after resettling to Germany. These follow-up stories were then posted onto Unicef’s social media channels as part of its global #actofhumanity campaign.


UNICEF is changing the conversation around the youngest refugees. They are often seen as threats to their host countries, leading to their stigmatization and marginalization, which makes their transition and acceptance into other countries difficult. Through the campaign, these children’s voices were heard by more than half a billion people across 176 countries, leading to not only widespread exposure, but a widening of perspectives. News stories and social comments in response to the campaign (i.e. “I want to adopt Mustafa”) show a major attitude shift in terms of accepting/helping these kids. After the campaign, Mustafa and Malak found a new home in Germany.

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