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

22 June 2013
“Arab Idol” Winner Mohammad Assaf named UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees
Filippo Grandi, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), has named 23-year-old Mohammad Assaf as the first UNRWA Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees. This follows Mohammad 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 Mohammad and his family”, said Grandi. “All Palestinians share in his success. Mohammad‘s music is a universal language and speaks to all of us. How fantastic that a Palestine refugee from Gaza should bring us all together in this way.” 
Accepting his appointment as Youth Ambassador, Mohammad said: “I’m truly honoured to become an Ambassador for Palestine refugees. All my good memories of the UNRWA school in Khan Younis in Gaza, where I had the opportunity to study and grow, are still very fresh. Being a young refugee myself, I can understand better than anybody else the challenges and the opportunities before us. I’m committed to doing my very best to help UNRWA succeed in giving other young people like me the same chance.”
The first Palestinian to win Arab Idol, Assaf was born to Palestine refugee parents in Libya. He returned to the Gaza Strip with his family at age 4 and was raised largely in the refugee camp in Khan Younis. He has described himself as a “son of Palestine” and a “son of UNRWA”: his mother is an UNRWA teacher, and he himself was educated in UNRWA schools.
Assaf’s appointment as a Regional Youth Ambassador been made possible through the support of Platinum Records, whose General Director, Essam Kamal, said that the company “is extremely proud to see Mohammad Assaf become UNRWA’s Regional Youth Ambassador. He now advocates for over five million Palestine refugees.” Highlighting the company’s commitment to the refugee community, he continued: “Platinum Records will be proud to support him as an artist, and equally proud to support his social and humanitarian work on behalf of Palestine refugees.”
Young people, between the ages of 15 and 30, currently make up nearly 42 per cent of the 5.3 million refugees UNRWA is mandated to serve, and are a particularly vulnerable segment of the population. An UNRWA education offers them a better future. In over 700 schools, UNRWA teaches some 500,000 children. UNRWA’s 19,000 teachers help them acquire the skills they need to thrive and grow. With nine vocational training centres that see nearly 7,000 young men and women graduate each year, the Agency also equips young refugees with the skills and technical expertise to become self-sufficient.  
Background Information: 

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact: