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UNHCR welcomes new Goodwill Ambassador

News Stories, 30 October 2003

© Eliot Press
Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane presenting the UN passport to Goodwill Ambassador Julien Clerc in Paris.

PARIS, October 30 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has found a new Goodwill Ambassador in French singer Julien Clerc, a man in tune with UNHCR's fundraising and public awareness needs.

Clerc was appointed as UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador for francophone countries on Tuesday in a ceremony in Paris attended by some 150 people. Among the guests were UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Kamel Morjane, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, and former UN Representative in Kosovo Bernard Kouchner.

Welcoming Clerc into the UNHCR family, the Assistant High Commissioner said, "We are glad in UNHCR to have an artist of his calibre on our side and we admire him for having taken this courageous decision, because he could have chosen to support one of many other causes that are noble but are easier to defend than that of refugees and asylum seekers."

Morjane added, "I thank him from the bottom of my heart and say to him that we count a lot on him to spread the good word, as he has been doing in the French-speaking world and beyond."

Recalling his first encounter with the refugee agency in December last year, Clerc said, "At (UNHCR's) headquarters, I met extraordinary people, men and women, especially from the emergency team, who shared with me their passion, their dedication and their commitment to this organisation and refugees. They told me about the daily difficulties they have to face and also the joy they felt when they managed to save a person whose life was threatened."

The Assistant High Commissioner presented Clerc with a UN passport. In preparation for his upcoming mission to the field, the singer was also given a UNHCR vest, T-shirt and cap, which he promptly donned.

As UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador, Clerc expects to travel to the field within the next few months, as well as to make numerous public appearances on behalf of the agency. His best-known collaboration with UNHCR to date has been the use of his song, "Partir (Leave)" in the agency's television campaign last year. He has since supported many UNHCR activities, including raising 268,000 Euros for the agency through a fundraising TV show in April this year.

Clerc started his musical career in 1968, receiving the "Five Gold Records" award in 1974 for his album sales. Over the years, he has built up a large following with his meaningful lyrics, melodious tunes and international collaborations with artists like Manu DiBango, Carla Bruni and Florin Niculescu.

The French singer joins other UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors like Angelina Jolie, Giorgio Armani, Barbara Hendricks and Adel Imam, who represents the refugee agency in the Arab world.

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UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to the Syrian capital Damascus on 2 October, 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees two years after her last visit. The award-winning American actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, took the opportunity to urge the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who remain in exile despite a relative improvement in the security situation in their homeland. Jolie said most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will need continued support from the international community, she said. The Goodwill Ambassador visited the homes of two vulnerable Iraqi families in the Jaramana district of southern Damascus. She was particularly moved during a meeting with a woman from a religious minority who told Jolie how she was physically abused and her son tortured after being abducted earlier this year in Iraq and held for days. They decided to flee to Syria, which has been a generous host to refugees.

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Barbara Hendricks marks 25 years with UNHCR

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In 2012, UNHCR celebrates this landmark 25th anniversary with a ceremony in the Geneva headquarters of the refugee agency. In her years with UNHCR, Hendricks has performed fund-raising concerts, met policymakers and government leaders in Europe, Asia and Africa and been on more than a dozen visits to the field, meeting the forcibly displaced around the world. UNHCR salutes its longest serving Goodwill Ambassador.

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