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UNHCR Spain auctions art for refugee youth

UNHCR Spain auctions art for refugee youth

In the run-up to World Refugee Day on June 20, the UN refugee agency is holding an art exhibition and auction in Madrid, with proceeds going to refugee and displaced youth in Namibia and Colombia. The event is being co-organised with auctioneers Durán and eBay.
10 June 2003
"Refugee Youth: Scarred Lives", an art exhibition-auction co-organised by UNHCR at the Madrid Book Fair.

MADRID, Spain, June 10 (UNHCR) - Call it art with the young at heart. A group of artists, politicians and entertainers in Spain have joined hands to raise funds for refugee youth through an art auction in the run-up to this year's World Refugee Day.

Titled "Refugee Youth: Scarred Lives", this exhibition-auction is on at the Madrid Book Fair in the capital's Retiro Park from May 30 to June 15. It features works of art from a variety of celebrities. Filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar wrote a short text, actor Federico Luppi penned a poem, singer Miguel Bosé did a colourful painting, while politicians Pilár del Castillo and Trinidad Jiménez contributed drawings.

Sculptor Juan Genovés wrote: "I have always been especially sensitive to the situation of refugees. I think when a human being loses his roots, he or she has lost almost everything in life. House, family, way of life and friends, all have been taken away brutally and almost always violently. To find oneself like that, suddenly destitute and stripped of everything, takes you to such a dramatic situation of emptiness and desperation that it must be difficult to overcome. That's why I collaborate with UNHCR, offering what I think is the best I have: my solidarity, my enthusiasm and part of my work."

All the art works, which are exhibited in a UNHCR tent in the middle of the book fair, show solidarity with young refugees who have lost so much, and still have high hopes for a better future. The proceeds of the auction will benefit refugee youth, the protagonists of this year's World Refugee Day.

During the inauguration of the book fair, Spain's Queen Sofia visited the exhibition and sent warm wishes: "To the young refugees: I send you a very big hug. With all my affection, Sofía, Queen."

This is the second consecutive year the UN refugee agency has held an exhibition at the Madrid Book Fair. Bids on the artworks are accepted in the tent and over the Internet in partnership with Spain's prestigious art auction house, Durán, and online auctioneer eBay.

"There are some fine pieces among the art works. The level in general is quite high," said Durán Director Alfonso Durán.

A final auction will take place in the tent on the last day of the book fair on June 15. Interested bidders who cannot make it there can bid online at and Durán will continue the auction of selected art works until June 26.

Explaining UNHCR's presence at the book fair, Elisa Garcia, Marketing Director of UNHCR's National Committee España con ACNUR, said, "It is more of a visibility thing, a pleasant way to raise awareness about the difficult situation that young refugees live in."

Queen Sophia of Spain offering some words of solidarity with young refugees in the UNHCR tent.

Last year, more than 3 million people visited the Madrid Book Fair. The auction raised some 18,000 Euros and supported two projects for refugee women in Colombia and Afghanistan. This year, the organisers hope to increase proceeds. The money will go to a secondary school project for Angolan refugees in Namibia's Osire camp and to a psychological counselling project for internally displaced youth in Colombia's Urabá region.

The art exhibition-auction is just one of the many activities in Spain to commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20. There will be concerts in Madrid and Pamplona, Navarra, and a roundtable discussion on the perspectives of young refugees in Barcelona.

This year, Spain also celebrates the 25th anniversary of its ratification of the two main international refugee protection instruments: the 1951 Refugee Convention and its additional protocol of 1967. To mark this milestone, UNHCR and the Presidency of the House of Parliament will organise an event on June 20 in the Spanish parliament.