Muazzez Ersoy and UNHCR
Turkish singer Muazzez Ersoy has long been interested in humanitarian issues, including the plight of refugees and displaced persons. Her mother's family came from the Salonika region of Greece, but were forced to leave for Turkey in the first half of the 20th Century.
Ersoy first began helping the uprooted in her own country, before in the latter 1990s reaching out to people further afield - refugees and the displaced in places like Azerbaijan and the Balkans. She started giving benefit concerts and visiting camps.
She became increasingly concerned about the plight of women and children, and it was her work with unaccompanied children that brought Ersoy into contact with UNHCR and its work.
In June 2006, she visited refugee families in the central Anatolian cities of Kayseri and Aksaray, listening to their problems and sharing her family's experience with them. She also opened a UNHCR community centre for refugees in Kayseri.
Also in 2006, Ersoy played a part in celebrating World Refugee Day on June 20. She invited young refugee musicians and dancers to appear with her on her popular weekly entertainment programme on television. The show put a spotlight on the work of UNHCR and on refugee issues.
The singer soon agreed to become the honorary chairperson of UNHCR Turkey's Gender and Children Team, which was established in 2000 to enhance the agency's multi-sectoral work with, and protection of, refugee women and children.
In November 2006, Ersoy organized a lunch in Ankara for refugees. The aim was to draw public attention to the asylum system in Turkey and to show her solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers. She has also appeared with five Somalian refugee children on the popular "Carkifelek" television programme.
The Turkish star regularly supports the work of the refugee agency in her public statements and highlights the problems that refugees face in Turkey and elsewhere in the world, while advocating action to address these issues. In albums released in 2006 and 2007, she invited her fans to support the world's refugees.
Ersoy was appointed to become a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in May 2006 and this was formalised by High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in February 2007.