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WFP appoints Mahmoud Yassin as Ambassador against hunger

Dubai- WFP has appointed Mahmoud Yassin, one of the best-known Egyptian and Arab film stars of all time, as an "Ambassador against Hunger" to help raise awareness of the plight of the more than 800 million hungry people around the world.

"We are extremely grateful that such a high-profile star has decided to donate some of his time to help us in our global effort to combat hunger. This is a crucial task when 1,000 people around the world die every hour because of hunger-related diseases. That's more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined," said James Morris, WFP Executive Director, who is touring the Gulf region this week.

Yassin joins other celebrities in championing the WFP cause. They include Hollywood star Sean Connery, the Grammy-award winning, Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora; and marathon world champion and former school feeding beneficiary Paul Tergat.

WFP, the world's largest humanitarian organisation, plays a vital role in reducing poverty and hunger around the globe where nearly 840 million people, including 300 million children, are unable to meet their basic food needs.

In 2003 alone, WFP, which is fully dependent on voluntary contributions, raised $2.6 billion and assisted 104 million hungry poor people in 81 countries. More than 50 percent of those beneficiaries - about 57 million people - live in predominantly Muslim countries.

"The world has enough food and goodwill to tackle this tragedy. Ending hunger is not simply just a duty for all of us, but a means to clear the way for hundreds of millions of children, women and men to reach their full potential. Humanity at large will benefit," said Yassin.

With over 150 film credits, more than 25 theatre productions and hundreds of TV and radio shows stretching back to the 1960s, Yassin has become an idol for generations in the Arabic-speaking world.

"A genuine artist should empathise more deeply than others with human suffering and I am hopeful that my voice will help WFP reach more and more needy people," Yassin said. "I want to see my grandchildren and all children live in a better world."

Yassin has already appeared in a widely broadcast public service announcement about WFP efforts to end hunger. In his role as Ambassador against Hunger, he has agreed to travel around the Arab world, speak on behalf of the hungry poor and call for more support to WFP activities.

Note to editors: Visit the WFP website (www.wfp.org) to view the public service announcement featuring Mahmoud Yassin as well as an interview with him.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school -- a gift of hope for a brighter future.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Khaled Mansour,
WFP/ Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe
Mob. +20 12 234 8671

Mia Turner,
WFP/ Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe,
Mob. +20 12 245 5769

Brenda Barton,
Deputy Director Communications, WFP/Rome,
Tel. +39-06-65132602,
Mob. +39-3472582217

Gregory Barrow,
WFP/London,
Tel. +44-20-75929292, Mob. +44-7968-008474

Christiane Berthiaume,
WFP/Geneva,
Tel. +41-22-9178564, Mob. +41-79-2857304

Trevor Rowe,
WFP/NY,
Tel. +1-212-9635196, Mob. +1-646-8241112, rowe@un.org

Jordan Dey,
WFP/Washington,
Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383