Ricky Martin has taken time off from his busy lifestyle and paid a special visit to Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon.

In a recent two-day visit with UNICEF, Martin participated in recreational activities for children at safe spaces in informal settlements in Bekaa valley and Akkar. He also met adolescents attending life-skills training, where girls and boys are given vocational training and learning support.

As UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2003, the Puerto Rican singer calls for increased focus on safeguarding the futures of millions of children affected by the Syria conflict, whose lives have been shaped by displacement, violence and a persistent lack of opportunities.

"We are in the sixth year of a crisis that has impacted the lives of millions of children and their families. An estimated 2.8 million children are now out of school in the region. I met children who have been forced to become breadwinners for their families, working up to 12 hours a day," said Martin in a press statement. “The world must do more to make sure these children are protected from exploitation and given access to safe environments where they can learn and be empowered.”

Ricky Martin in Lebanon Ricky Martin plays football with Syrian refugee children at Al-Hissa informal refugee settlement in northern Lebanon. Courtesy: © UNICEF/Choufany

Around 1.1 million Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon since the start of the crisis in 2011, more than half of them are children. Child refugees are particularly at risk of exploitation and abuse, with large numbers being left with no choice but to go out to work, rather than attend school.

Following his special visit, the world-renowned artist shared a very heartfelt message on social media:

"I have new Syrian friends in Lebanon. I truly admire their perseverance and spirit in spite of the hardships they are facing. More than a million Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon since the start of the crisis and more than half of them are children. They shouldn't be forgotten."

Martin is known for being an activist of children's rights with a focus on advocating for the protection of children against exploitation, abuse and trafficking.