For the 13th issue of the magazine, Roitfeld decided to work with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. Gigi Hadid, one of the world’s most popular models, and Halima Aden, one of its newest and maybe most unexpected models, work with the organization, which focuses on getting vital supplies and health services to children in politically unstable regions, as well as advocacy.
In separate covers, Hadid and Aden are featured wearing a UNICEF T-shirt and a utility-style jacket by Calvin Klein, with the latter in a hijab (this time in the form of a leopard-print hood) that’s become a trademark of her emerging career. Both are featured in a relatively straightforward style with natural makeup and hair and pose before a simple gray background — a far cry from Roitfeld’s typical archly stylized covers. But a more staid image suits the collaboration at hand.
UNICEF’s most recent global report on the state of refugee and migrant children found that 50 million a year are either part of a migration or “forcibly displaced.” The issue of immigration has been of particular focus in Europe in recent years, which, despite some of the most complex immigration and border laws, has seen an influx of about two million immigrants since 2015, many fleeing violence in Libya and Syria and risking their lives by attempting to swim across the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, the U.S. under President Trump has severely restricted immigration, including legal immigration, pushing forward earlier this year with a “zero tolerance” policy that forced thousands of immigrant parents to be detained and their children to be placed in government shelters or foster homes.
Roitfeld said she wanted to “celebrate” the mission of UNICEF with the new issue, “especially in such a challenging year for children and refugees globally.” She also wanted to highlight the work done by Hadid, whose father is a refugee, and Aden, who herself is a refugee. “I wanted to celebrate these two passionate young women, honoring their accomplishments and the promise of what they will bring to this respected organization,” Roitfeld added.
Caryl Stern, president and chief executive officer of UNICEF U.S., said “the fashion industry has a real power to spark discussions,” noting that “there are more children on the run right now than at any point since World War II and it’s crucial to shine a light on those who are helping make the world a better place and empowering children to have a brighter future.”
As for Hadid, who at the time of writing was actually with UNICEF visiting a refugee camp in Bangladesh with more than 45,000 inhabitants, said the Palestinian side of her family had to flee to Syria when her father was a newborn, and subsequently came to the U.S.
In a Friday Instagram post, Hadid showed her nearly 43 million followers a small educational session for women, writing: “Their strength, bravery and desire to learn and better their lives and the lives of their children is inspiring and encourages us/@unicefusa to continue to find new ways to support these amazing human beings during this crisis.”
For her part, Aden, a Somali who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, still remembers UNICEF members and missionaries coming around as a child. “I forget names, but can never forget how they made me feel,” she told the magazine.
As for what it was like to land in America as a young girl with her mother without even speaking the language, Aden said for the first few months she longed for the familiarity of the refugee camp. “Isn’t that insane?” she asks.
“My mom used to say that ‘home spit us out and wouldn’t let us return,’” Aden continued. “That’s why every refugee longs for acceptance. Will I be welcomed with open arms or will I be sent back or will I endure something even worse?”
Hadid and Aden have also created a new CrowdRise fund (crowdrise.com/UNICEFuprooted) to raise money for UNICEF, which exists through voluntary contributions from governments, nonprofits, corporations and individuals, and receives no funding from dues paid to the United Nations.
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