Goodwill Ambassador Dalaras gives voice to the refugee children of Africa

News Stories, 31 January 2007

© Courtesy of Dimitris Panoulis
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador George Dalaras sings for refugee children in Africa during a benefit concert at the Athens Concert Hall.

ATHENS, Greece, January 31 (UNHCR) UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador George Dalaras has highlighted the plight of refugee children in Africa by playing two sold-out benefit concerts in Athens earlier this week. The famous musician and singer will next month meet refugees in Liberia and Sierra Leone during his first overseas trip on behalf of the UN refugee agency.

Proceeds from the atmospheric and warmly received concerts Monday and Tuesday at the Athens Concert Hall will be used by UNHCR to help programmes aimed at refugee children in Africa.

Dalaras, urging his audience on Tuesday to continue supporting the work of UNHCR, said that millions of uprooted refugee children worldwide were the victims of war and persecution. "They were obliged to abandon their homes, it was not their choice. The path is very narrow," he said, before adding: "Together we can widen the narrow path."

A brief film on UNHCR's work around the world opened Tuesday's concert before Dalaras came on stage to perform two famous religious works, Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra, by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez. He was accompanied by Mexican singer Martha Moreleon, a choir and an orchestra.

"Performing these two great works has a symbolic value as the lyrics and the music vibrate a message of acceptance, protection and respect for persecuted refugees," Dalaras explained shortly before this week's two concerts.

In the second part of the concert, he sang Greek songs by famous composers such as Mikis Theodorakis-related to the plight of migrants and refugees as well as favourites requested by the public. These went down well with the 1,500 concertgoers, who cheered and applauded throughout.

© and courtesy of Charis Akriviadis
Goodwill Ambassador George Dalaras sings at UNHCR benefit concert in Athens on January 30, 2007 with guest singer Martha Molereon from Mexico.

Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, head of the UNHCR office in Athens, thanked the audience for its warm response to the benefit concert. "Tonight's concert is the beginning of a series of actions that aim at putting a spotlight on aspects of today's refugee reality ... focusing on Africa," he said.

Dalaras, who will visit Sierra Leone and Liberia from February 12-18, was formally inducted as a UNHCR goodwill ambassador last October.

By Ketty Kehayioylou in Athens, Greece