October concert for late tenor Pavarotti to benefit Afghans

News Stories, 12 August 2008

© UNHCR Kandahar
Women and children, such as these returnees in eastern Afghanistan, will benefit from the proceeds of the October 12 tribute concert in Jordan.

KABUL, Afghanistan, August 12 (UNHCR) A year after his death, a charity concert and memorial ceremony will be held in honour of the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti at the renowned historical site of Petra, Jordan in mid-October.

Top artists from the world of classical and popular music will perform on Pavarotti's birthday (October 12) in remembrance of his great talent. Key humanitarian figures will also be present at the memorial ceremony the night before, bearing witness to his dedication to humanitarian work, especially as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

The tribute is the brainchild of Nicoletta Mantovani, Pavarotti's widow and HRH Princess Haya, a fellow UN Messenger of Peace and daughter of Jordan's late King Hussein. "A concert in Petra was a dream once shared by the late King Hussein of Jordan and Luciano," said Mantovani. "I am so grateful to Her Royal Highness Princess Haya, for making it possible to turn this dream into a reality."

The proceeds of the concert will support joint projects in Afghanistan by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). A local charity supporting disabled children in Petra will also benefit from the concert.

Most of the proceeds from the concert's ticket sales will be spent on a range of projects in eastern Afghanistan, which hosts a high concentration of returning refugees. The vast majority approximately 80 percent of this year's repatriation has been to eastern provinces such as Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar. The total number of return to the eastern provinces since 2002 is over 1 million returnees.

Projects include health improvement and hygiene education to benefit thousands of families particularly women and children; the building of four kindergartens which will allow 400 children to have better education; skills and literacy training for disabled people as well as the rehabilitation of roads, the creation of micro-hydro power and irrigation canals to bring electricity and improve agriculture production for 700 families. In addition, there will be food-for-work projects to address the immediate food insecurity of the most vulnerable individuals.

Since the start of UNHCR's voluntary repatriation operation in 2002, some 4.2 million Afghans have returned home with the agency's assistance. Another 1 million Afghan have repatriated on their own.

In June 2001, Maestro Pavarotti was awarded the Nansen Refugee Award the top global award for services to refugees in recognition of his support and concern for refugees.

The upcoming charity and memorial concert will bring top artists who performed with the late Italian tenor at the "Pavarotti & Friends" charity concerts in his hometown of Modena. The line up of performers will be announced at a press conference in early September 2008. The concert in Petra will be produced by world-renowned impresario Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

By Mohammed Nadir Farhad in Kabul, Afghanistan