Palestinian Singer Marwan Abado Performs for UNRWA@60

20 May 2010

19 May 2010

Palestinian Singer Marwan Abado Performs for UNRWA@60Marwan Abado, the acclaimed Palestinian singer and ‘oud player, commemorates UNRWA’s 60th anniversary this week with performances on 18 May at Damascus Opera House and 19 May at the Aleppo Directorate of Culture.

The two concerts are part of Abado’s “Palestine Remains My Melody” tour, which is travelling throughout the Middle East in support of UNRWA. In Syria, the concerts are held under the patronage of the First Lady, Asma al-Assad, and are organised by the Society for Austro-Arab Relations.

Born a Palestinian refugee in Beirut, Marwan Abado emigrated to Vienna in 1985 to study music, and it was there he developed a unique, improvisational style combining the classical Arabic tradition of Taq’sim with Western elements. Abado was named Austria’s musician of the year for “World and Folk” music in 2005, and his 2006 album “KABILA” was selected the best album of the year in the same category. Currently, Abado performs both as a solo musician and as a member of several ensembles, in Austria and worldwide.

Palestine has indeed remained Abado’s melody, for his lyrics incorporate political commentary on the realities of Palestinian life as well as contemporary Arabic poetry and prose, and he holds workshops at schools and youth centres introducing young people to classical Arabic music. In 2008, Abado was awarded the Austrian Federal Medal for intercultural dialogue.

“We are very fortunate to have an artist of such outstanding calibre with us tonight,” said UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi in his welcoming speech at Damascus Opera House. He also thanked the First Lady and the Syrian government, noting that UNRWA’s 60th anniversary marks: “six decades of service and partnership with the government of Syria, a stable and welcoming host to Palestine refugees.”

Proceeds from the concert tour will be donated to UNRWA’s education programme, which operates close to 700 schools in the Middle East.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, provides education, health, relief and social services to some 4.7 million registered Palestine refugees.

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Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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