Ogata names Balasevic as UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador for former Yugoslavia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Sadako Ogata, named today a Serbian singer, Mr. Djordje Balasevic, as her Goodwill Ambassador in the former Yugoslavia. Ogata made the announcement after meeting with Balasevic in Novi Sad today, during her two-week visit throughout the region.

"I'm very happy to welcome Mr. Balasevic as my Goodwill Ambassador. His songs offer a source of inspiration and energy for people who want peace and reconciliation throughout former Yugoslavia," Ogata said.

Djordje Balasevic's ballads describing the absurdity of war and ethnic hatred have been popular across the former Yugoslavia. His immense popularity has survived ethnic divisions promoted during the war.

In February, some 14,000 Bosnians wept and sang along with Balasevic during his five-hour concert in Sarajevo, sponsored by UNHCR. The concert was Balasevic's first public appearance in Bosnia since the war began in 1992.

UNHCR's 15-year old Goodwill Ambassador programme seeks to promote respect for refugee rights and to draw attention to the plight of refugees. Prominent figures such as Sofia Loren and Barbara Hendricks have agreed to be the voice of refugees.