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Pavarotti and friends to stage concert for Angolan refugees

Pavarotti and friends to stage concert for Angolan refugees

World-renowned Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, supported by major stars like Sting, Lou Reed, James Brown and Andrea Bocelli, is dedicating this year's "Pavarotti and Friends" concert to support UNHCR's programmes for Angolan refugees.
23 May 2002
Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti with High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers at last year's concert for Afghanistan.

ROME, May 23 (UNHCR) - World-renowned Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti is dedicating this year's "Pavarotti and Friends" concert to support the UN refugee agency's programmes for Angolan refugees in Zambia. This is the third year out of the last four that Pavarotti has made refugees the central focus of the celebrated annual event.

Other stars performing at the concert, which will be held in Modena, Italy, on Tuesday, May 28, include Sting, Lou Reed, James Brown, Andrea Bocelli, Grace Jones and Zucchero. A special choir consisting of 30 Angolan refugee children, specially flown in from Zambia, and 30 Italian children will also perform on stage.

The "Pavarotti and Friends for Angola" concert will be shown live in Italy by RAI UNO and is also expected to be broadcast by television stations in more than 20 other countries.

In addition to the musicians, five leading Italian fashion designers are also supporting the fundraising event by each creating a special T-shirt that will be sold during the concert. The designers are Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gianfranco Ferré, Alberta Ferretti and Versace. Each fashion house will be supported by a major Italian TV star in its efforts to promote the initiative.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers will be attending the concert for the second year in succession.

The conflict in Angola has been one of the world's longest-running, deadliest and most neglected. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in 27 years of almost continuous fighting that broke out shortly after Angola became independent from Portugal in 1975. However, a new peace deal reached in April by the government and the UNITA rebel group after the death of UNITA's leader, Jonas Savimbi, has raised hopes that the conflict may now finally come to an end.

There are currently more than 450,000 Angolan refugees in southern Africa and as many as 4.5 million people displaced inside the country. Angola is also one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The largest concentrations of refugees are in Zambia (237,000) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (194,000).

Most of the proceeds from the ticket sales for the May 28 concert, as well as money raised in related fundraising events - including a telethon permitting viewers to make contributions during the show - will be spent on projects benefiting Angolan refugees in Zambia. However, some of the money will also go to support a hospital inside Angola itself, in Uíge, a province where UNHCR has been assisting some 140,000 displaced people.

In Zambia, the money raised by the concert will finance a wide range of projects that will greatly enhance the education, health services and water supply for around 80,000 Angolan refugees. Special focus will be placed on projects that benefit women and children, many of whom arrive from Angola in a very poor state of health.

Last year's "Pavarotti and Friends" concert and related activities raised US$3.3 million for Afghan refugees - at a time when Afghans were still among the world's most neglected and under-funded refugee groups, some four months before the September 11 terrorist attacks put Afghanistan back on the global agenda. The 1999 concert raised US$1 million for refugees from Kosovo.

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