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Pavarotti Tribute concert raises funds for Afghanistan

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and WFP will use funds raised by the Pavarotti tribute charity concert on 11 and 12 October 2008 to help returnees in Afghanistan to rebuild their lives.

A tribute charity concert was held in Petra, Jordan, this weekend in honour of the late Maestro, Luciano Pavarotti. Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Sting and Andrea Bocelli were among the stars who performed on Sunday.

Proceeds from the concert will support joint projects in Afghanistan sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

>>Watch footage from the concert

>>View a message from WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran

As a UN Messenger of Peace, Pavarotti was a committed supporter of the United Nations and worked tirelessly on behalf of refugees and displaced persons around the world.

The concert and memorial ceremony were organised by Nicoletta Mantovani with the support of HRH Princess Haya of Jordan, a UN Messenger of Peace.

Two Jordanian charities will also receive support from the concert: the Wadi Mousa Charitable Society to assist local disabled children and the Petra National Trust, for archeological restoration.

Afghanistan

After more than two decades of war, Afghanistan faces enormous recovery needs. This rugged, landlocked nation remains one of the poorest in the world, with more than half its 25 million citizens living below the poverty line. Furthermore, the dramatic rise in global food prices has affected more than 2.5 million Afghans who are finding that the costs of staples, such as wheat flour, now are beyond their reach.

For decades, Afghans constituted the world’s largest refugee population. At the height of the exodus, up to 8 million were living outside Afghanistan. Since 2002, over 5 million Afghans have returned, with a large proportion returning to the eastern provinces. Those families that have been able to return home face huge challenges, such as security, food shortages, insufficient shelter, unemployment and a lack of access to basic services, including schools and hospitals.

In some parts of the country, roads, bridges, and electricity are non-existent. Growing insecurity combined with the prevailing socio-economic situation in Afghanistan also make the return of Afghan refugees extremely difficult.

The UNHCR-WFP Pavarotti Tribute Project

UNHCR and WFP will use funds raised from the Pavarotti tribute charity concert to help returnees in Afghanistan to rebuild their lives, particularly in the eastern parts of the country where the largest numbers of returnees are coming from neighbouring Pakistan.

The 12-month, Euro 4 million-project, will begin in January 2009 and will target approximately 150,000 Afghan returnees (25,000 families). The project will focus specifically on vulnerable families and at-risk individuals, such as women and children, in addition to those communities who are struggling to cope with the harsh impact of the high food prices.

The work of the two UN agencies will take the form of a number of small-scale projects geared to help returnees improve their quality of life in a sustainable way. Projects will focus on community-based activities, including the construction of shelters and kindergarten schools and the rehabilitation of community infrastructure. Additionally, there will be vocational skills and literacy training, human rights awareness education, and agricultural training for vulnerable farmers.

UNHCR will provide shelter, including essential construction materials along with technical assistance, and an initial reintegration package. WFP will provide food assistance to returnees and host communities to address immediate food insecurity, as well as helping communities find employment and sources of income.

The UNHCR-WFP Pavarotti Tribute Project also envisages naming four kindergarten schools after the Maestro as enduring symbols of his commitment to children’s education and his legacy as a global humanitarian figure.