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Good early reviews for "stellar cast" on new Voices for Darfur DVD

News Stories, 5 October 2005

© UNHCR/S.Camper
The DVD shows the all-star cast joining together for the finale of the Voices for Darfur Concert.

GENEVA, October 5 (UNHCR) After an initial launch in the U.K., EMI is now rolling out the DVD of a recent all-star charity concert on behalf of refugees from Darfur. Already out in much of Europe, South Africa and Australia, the DVD will also be released in Japan and North America in the coming weeks.

The DVD, which in addition to the Voices for Darfur concert itself features backstage footage and three additional exclusive songs by Sade, David Gray and Franz Ferdinand, is already attracting some high praise from music critics.

In December 2004, some of the music industry's most illustrious artists all of whom are featured on the DVD joined up with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at London's Royal Albert Hall for a special concert to raise funds for the victims of the conflict in Darfur.

Artists who took part in the concert described as "magical" by many in the audience, according to Reuters AlertNet included Chrissie Hynde, Mick Hucknall, Antony Costa, Yusuf Islam, Mario Frangoulis, Deborah Myers, Alison Moyet, Moloko singer Roisin Murphy, Ruthie Henshall, Sir Willard White and the UN refugee agency's long-standing Goodwill Ambassador, Barbara Hendricks.

Early reviews surrounding the U.K. launch of the DVD have in general been very positive: "... It is obviously an incredibly worthy purchase," noted Music Week on 12 September, "and it has also the advantage of drawing some excellent performances from a stellar cast, most of whom elected to perform classic American songs."

The September edition of Record Collector was also very complimentary: "The sincerity of the performers is what raises this above similar events no one is here because they have a single to plug or to pontificate. Each performer shines on the stage: seeing Chrissie Hynde perform the loungey in 'The Still of the Night' is worth the price tag alone. Alison Moyet reaffirms her status as Britain's best-kept secret, but the night belongs to Yusuf Islam's impromptu performance of 'The Little Ones,' a track originally written for the children of Dunblane, which is so right for the occasion."

Sade wrote and recorded her first new track in four years, "Mum," especially for the DVD, accompanied by images from Darfur. David Gray, who had to pull out of the concert due to voice problems, recorded "Ain't No Love" for the DVD.

British band Franz Ferdinand was also unable to attend the concert, but provided a song for the evening, and donated half of their Mercury Music prize money. Coldplay were also unable to attend the concert itself, but made a generous financial contribution.

Critics have praised the technical quality of the DVD, as well as the performances of the singers. "As a DVD package this scores highly as both a sumptuously shot concert and a full to brimming heap of extras of behind-the-scenes preparations for the concert, and documentaries about the conflict itself," was the verdict given in Jazzwise Magazine.

The conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, which began in early 2003, has now displaced close to 2 million people within Darfur and driven more than 200,000 into neighbouring Chad, where UNHCR has set up 12 camps to care for the refugees.

All profits from the DVD will go to support the UN refugee agency's work in Darfur and Chad.




UNHCR country pages

Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

Bonga camp is located in the troubled Gambella region of western Ethiopia. But it remains untouched by the ethnic conflicts that have torn nearby Gambella town and Fugnido camp in the last year.

For Bonga's 17,000 Sudanese refugees, life goes on despite rumblings in the region. Refugee children continue with school and play while their parents make ends meet by supplementing UNHCR assistance with self-reliance projects.

Cultural life is not forgotten, with tribal ceremonies by the Uduk majority. Other ethnic communities – Shuluks, Nubas and Equatorians – are welcome too, judging by how well hundreds of newcomers have settled in after their transfer from Fugnido camp in late 2002.

Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Ahead of South Sudan's landmark January 9, 2011 referendum on independence, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese in the North packed their belongings and made the long trek south. UNHCR set up way stations at key points along the route to provide food and shelter to the travellers during their arduous journey. Several reports of rapes and attacks on travellers reinforced the need for these reception centres, where women, children and people living with disabilities can spend the night. UNHCR has made contingency plans in the event of mass displacement after the vote, including the stockpiling of shelter and basic provisions for up to 50,000 people.

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

The signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the army of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement on 9 January, 2005, ended 21 years of civil war and signaled a new era for southern Sudan. For some 4.5 million uprooted Sudanese – 500,000 refugees and 4 million internally displaced people – it means a chance to finally return home.

In preparation, UNHCR and partner agencies have undertaken, in various areas of South Sudan, the enormous task of starting to build some basic infrastructure and services which either were destroyed during the war or simply had never existed. Alongside other UN agencies and NGOs, UNHCR is also putting into place a wide range of programmes to help returnees re-establish their lives.

These programs include road construction, the building of schools and health facilities, as well as developing small income generation programmes to promote self-reliance.

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