Our Youth Ambassador, Mohammed Assaf

Note: As of 19 June 2017, Mohammed Assaf no longer serves as the UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador.
We thank him for helping us reach new audiences and for helping us advocate for the rights of Palestine refugee youth.

As a "child of UNRWA," Mohammed Assaf is the ideal individual to be our Agency’s first ever Regional Youth Ambassador. A Palestine refugee himself, he grew up in the Khan Younis camp in Gaza. Not long ago, he was one of the over 220,000 students attending the Agency's 245 schools in Gaza. For him, the connection continued at home: His mother, too, was an UNRWA teacher. Throughout his childhood – at school, at the doctor's, at community centres – he saw firsthand the work that UNRWA does for Palestine refugees.

Twenty-one-year old Mahmoud al-Zinati, a Palestine refugee from Jabalia camp in northern Gaza. © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Tamer Hamam
UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador Mohammed Assaf visiting students at the UNRWA Girls' School in the Palestine refugee camp of Am'ari, near Ramallah. © 2014 UNRWA Photo by Alaa Ghosheh

Since his appointment in June 2013, by Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi, as the Agency's Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees, the 23-year-old Arab Idol winner has used his voice and his talent to help UNRWA give other young people the same support it gave him. With the universal language of his music, he carries the message of UNRWA and young Palestine refugees to new audiences, including in the region – to Dubai and Kuwait – and even further. In November 2013, he took that message to the United States, bringing the voice of Palestine refugee youth to the United Nations in New York City.

MohammEd Assaf in the News

Mohammad Assaf thanks UNRWA teachers on World Teachers' Day

5 October 2016

On 5 October, UNRWA joins the international community in celebrating #WorldTeachersDay to recognize the vital contributions that teachers make to education and development.

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 “Photo Credit: Mohamemd Assaf Twitter, @MohammedAssaf89

In World Humanitarian Day event, Mohammed Assaf calls for support for humanitarian organizations working to protect refugees

19 August 2016

UNRWA Goodwill Ambassador Mohammad Assaf participated as a special guest at the World Humanitarian Day (WHD) event in New York City on Friday. In his speech to the attendees – which was translated by renowned television actor Yasmine al-Massri, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee – he urged attendees and the broader international community to take action towards ending the violence in Syria and support humanitarian organizations working to support refugees and displaced peoples.

Watch a video of Assaf's speach

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 “UNRWA Youth Ambassador performs at International Day for Mine Awareness event in Gaza

UNRWA Youth Ambassador performs at International Day for Mine Awareness event in Gaza

8 April 2015

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) organized an event in Gaza, attended by thousands of people in Khan Yunis, to celebrate the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Mohammed Assaf, the UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees, was a special guest and gave a performance. The event took place at UNRWA Khan Yunis training college and involved a series of sporting events, including football, volleyball, athletics and a wheelchair race. All of the events were supported by sports clubs in Gaza, with the objective to raise awareness on the ERW contamination in Gaza as well as on the rights of survivors from ERW related accidents. Mohammed Assaf sang two songs, dedicated to the civilians whose lives are affected by mines and ERW.

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Mohammed Assaf performs at an UNRWA fundraising event in London

29 November 2014

UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees Mohammed Assaf gave a performance at an UNRWA fundraising reception hosted by Madam Sawsan Asfari in London. Madam Asfari is a loyal donor and partner of UNRWA. Fifty of the Agency's top UK-based donors attended the event, including representatives of Muslim Charity, a humanitarian aid organization, also based in the UK. During the event, UNRWA auctioned several pictures from its archive to raise money for the Gaza emergency appeal. Assaf also visited the offices of Muslim Charity, where he signed an agreement on behalf of UNRWA with the Muslim Charity, who contributed US$500,000 in support of the UNRWA emergency appeal for Gaza.


Mohammed Assaf supports #Freedom4Gaza campaign

9 October 2014

The #Freedom4Gaza Thunderclap campaign was launched 26 September 2014 to create an "informal coalition of world citizens, UN agencies and other organisations" united in calling for an end to the blockade on Gaza. The campaign was originally intended to end with the Cairo donor conference for Gaza's reconstruction on 12 October. However, with 48 hours to go, the end date was amended to coincide with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's trip to Gaza. 1,721 social media account holders joined the campaign on Thunderclap, creating a reach of roughly 3.8 million people. With the help of the national committees, at least four major celebrities joined: Hollywood stars Mark Ruffalo and Mia Farrow, British journalist Jemima Khan and Regional Youth Ambassador Mohammed Assaf. A video recorded by Assaf to promote the campaign garnered more than 10,000 views.

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Goodwill Ambassador Mohammed Assaf on Humanitarian Airlift for Gaza

30 July 2014

A recent flight of emergency relief supplies for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip carried not just hygiene kits and other supplies from Dubai to Jordan, but also a special passenger: UNRWA goodwill ambassador Mohammed Assaf, Arab Idol winner and popular singer from Gaza's Khan Younis camp, where several families have been wiped out in the continuing violence. Upon landing in Jordan, he made an emotional plea for the people of Gaza.

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“Arab Idol” visits Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce

11 June 2014

Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf visited the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce's head-quarter, in São Paulo, Wednesday 11th of June 2014, where he met with the organization's CEO, Michel Alaby, and journalists. Assaf came to Brazil that week to perform at the 64th International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) Congress, held in São Paulo on Tuesday and Wednesday. He sang the song "Assaf 360", whose theme is the World Cup.Besides being a singer, Assaf also plays football. He was even registered as a player in the Palestinian Football Association. He said he likes Brazil team, but in this World Cup he is supporting the only Arab team in the competition, Algeria. Assaf will watched the World Cup's opening game between Brazil and Croatia, Thursday (12th), before leaving Brazil.

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 “UNRWA Arab Idol Serenades World Cup Audiences with Unprecedented ‘Fan-written’ Song

UNRWA Arab Idol Serenades World Cup Audiences with Unprecedented ‘Fan-written’ Song

4 June 2014

Mohammed Assaf - Arab Idol winner, Palestine refugee and UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for the has created World Cup history by creating the competition's first ever 'fan-written' song. It was recorded in Dubai on 3 June. Assaf will perform the song 'Assaf360', live for the first time on 10 June in São Paulo, Brazil, at the opening ceremony of the sixty-fourth FIFA Congress. 'Assaf360' will also be the anthem for the UNRWA Give for Food campaign. All proceeds from the download of the song, via iTunes or Anghami+, will support the UNRWA campaign, helping "red card" hunger for food-insecure Palestine refugees.

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 “Assaf at launch of the Siblin Training Centre football pitch

Assaf at launch of the Siblin Training Centre football pitch

16 April 2014

Under the patronage of the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to #Lebanon Ambassador, Angelina Eichhorst, and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, UNRWA organized the launch ceremony of the football pitch of Siblin Training Centre (South Campus), upgraded by UNRWA through the EU-funded project, 'Improving the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon'. Ambassador of the State of Palestine, H.E. Mr. Ashraf Dabbour, and UNRWA Goodwill Ambassador Mohammed Assaf were present at the event.

 “Assaf in the 2014 Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition

Assaf in the 2014 Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition

9 April 2014

UNRWA and its Goodwill Ambassador Mohammad Assaf participated last week in the 2014 Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition, which highlighted women in times of conflict and war. The conference was opened by HRH Princess Haya Bint al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. She visited an exhibit of photos from the historic UNRWA archives that celebrated the long journey of Palestine refugee women, and expressed her appreciation for the Agency's work in supporting Palestine refugees in the region. Her Highness also visited an UNRWA exhibit highlighting the plight of Palestine refugees in #Syria, particularly in Yarmouk camp, Damascus, where humanitarian conditions have grown desperate following months of siege and limited access for relief efforts.

 “A supporter holds pita bread in front of the projected iconic image of the Yarmouk crisis in Syria at the Syria flash mob held in Times Square. 20 March 2014, New York City, USA. © Smita Sharma/UNRWA Archives

Assaf Supports “Let Us Through” Campaign

19 March 2014

Led by UNRWA and supported by celebrities like Mia Farrow, Hugh Grant and Arab Idol Mohammed Assaf, a three-day global social media campaign demanded that parties to the Syrian conflict allow aid into the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria. The campaign, which involved other major UN agencies and their partners, has generated more than 31.6 million 'impressions' and reached tens of millions of people around the world.

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 “Singer and UNRWA Goodwill Ambassador Mohammed Assaf Visits the Danish Royal Library

Singer and UNRWA Goodwill Ambassador Mohammed Assaf Visits the Danish Royal Library

27 February 2014

Arab Idol winning singer Mohammed Assaf visited this week the Danish Royal Library where the UNRWA Archive is being digitized by a team of professional experts thanks to a generous contribution from the Danish Government. The Danish Royal Library started the work in May last year and have completed the digitalization of over 150,000 photos up to date they plan to organize a special exhibition in 2015 upon competition of the works.

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 “© 2014 UNRWA Photo by Shareef Sarhan

Mohammed Assaf’s visit to the Gaza Strip

12 February 2014

UNRWA Goodwill Ambassador Mohammed Assaf visited a number UNRWA operations in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, including an elementary school, where he took a seat at a desk with the other students. He spent some time at the UNRWA training centre in Khan Younis, where he spoke to students and encouraged them to study and work hard.

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 “Mohammed Assaf performing in Chicago in December 2013. Credit Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

New York Times: An ‘Arab Idol’ Wows His Fans in America

18 December 2013

Arab Idol, Mohammed Assaf, is trying to conquer North America, or at least its people of Arab descent. He has been on a nine-week tour of cities that have large Arab immigrant populations, ending in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 28 and including performances in Ottawa on Thursday and Friday. From Detroit to Tampa, every show has been packed, with entire extended families paying up to $350 a ticket.

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United Nations Department of Public Information: From Camp to Champ: A Refugee Story

5 December 2013

Visiting United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mohammed Assaf met with eight Palestinian journalists attending a training programme held by the Department of Public Information. Four of the journalists had chosen Palestine refugees as the central theme of their final project. In this interview, they ask Mr. Assaf about his life as a Palestine refugee in the Gaza Strip - from daily obstacles to major, life-threatening dangers and the persistence that encouraged him to follow his dreams, bringing hope to millions of young people across the region.

Al Arabiya: Mohammed Assaf celebrates ‘Palestine Day’ at U.N. headquarters

26 November 2013

Palestinian vocalist Mohammed Assaf, this year’s winner of “Arab Idol,” celebrated Monday the International Day of ‎Solidarity with the Palestinian People together with high profile U.N. officials in New York... “In Gaza, children like me grow in an environment laden with challenges and in an unbelievable way. Many of our parents suffer to find job opportunities or strive hard to put some food on the table,” Assaf said in his U.N. address.

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Mohammed Assaf, UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador and Winner of Arab Idol 2013 speaks to journalists. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Youth envoy for UN Palestine refugee agency says goals can be achieved with hope, determination

26 November 2013

From a “tougher than tough” life in a Gaza refugee camp to winning the title of this year’s “Arab Idol”, Mohammed Assaf told reporters at United Nations Headquarters today that he will “never forget his roots” and, as a beacon of hope for all Palestinian people, he will continue to promote peace, security and other universal values. Watch a video of his press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

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Singer Mohammad Assaf receives donation on behalf of UNRWA

From Mohammed Assaf, a Song for Solidarity

25 November 2013

UNRWA is proud to welcome its Regional Youth Ambassador, Mohammed Assaf, to United Nations Headquarters in New York. As the first goodwill ambassador in UNRWA history, he will join the Agency, the United Nations and Member States as they mark the thirty-fifth International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, on 25 November... Currently on tour in the United States, Mr. Assaf will perform for hundreds of delegates and civil society at the UN, bringing the sounds and rhythms of Palestine to New York with a song for solidarity.

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Singer Mohammad Assaf receives donation on behalf of UNRWA

Mohammad Assaf receives donation on behalf of UNRWA

5 November 2013

Dr. Majd Naji, the Director of Liberty Dental Clinic hands UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador Mohammed Assaf 100,000 UAE Dirhams in support of Palestine refugees. The ceremony was attended by Margot Ellis, Deputy Commissioner-General of UNRWA, and Mr. Peter Ford, Representative of the Commissioner-General in the Arab world.

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 “UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador Mohammed Assaf visiting students at an UNRWA girls' school in the Palestine refugee camp of Am'ari, near Ramallah. © 2013 UNRWA Photo by Alaa Ghosheh

Mohammed Assaf Visits UNRWA Students in Am'ari

10 September 2013

OA visit by Arab Idol and Regional Youth Ambassador Mohammed Assaf to a girls' school in the Palestine refugee camp of Am'ari, near Ramallah, helped the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) emphasize the message of its Back to School campaign. Launched in August, the campaign highlighted important messages about education for Palestine refugee students, including those threatened by displacement and movement restrictions in the West Bank or suffering under the blockade in the Gaza Strip.

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UNRWA Launches Fundraising Campaign for Syria and Gaza

22 July 2013

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is proud to announce the launch of a fundraising and awareness campaign for Palestine refugees in Syria and the Gaza Strip during the holy month of Ramadan. Working with Arab Idol Mohammed Assaf, the Agency's Regional Youth Ambassador, UNRWA hopes to highlight the struggles and needs of these vulnerable Palestine refugees.

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UNRWA Commissioner-General welcomes singer, Mohammad Assaf, to UNRWA headquarters in Gaza

26 June 2013

The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Filippo Grandi, welcomed Arab Idol winner, Mohammed Assaf, to UNRWA headquarters in Gaza, and thanked him for accepting the role of UNRWA's first ever "Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees". Speaking in front of hundreds of UNRWA staff, Grandi said Mohammed "had brought us all together in a rare moment of celebration".

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“Arab Idol” Winner Mohammad Assaf named UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees

22 June 2013

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi has named 23-year-old Mohammed Assaf as the first UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees. This follows Mohammed winning the Arab Idol crown and reflects his personal commitment to Palestinian refugees and to UNRWA. "On behalf of everybody at UNRWA, I send warmest congratulations to Mohammed and his family", said Grandi. "All Palestinians share in his success. Mohammed's music is a universal language and speaks to all of us."

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