UN agency picks ‘Arab Idol’ winner Assaf as first youth envoy for Palestine refugees

UNRWA Spokesperson Sami M’shasha (left) congratulates the winner of Arab Idol, Mohammad Assaf, on his appointment as UNRWA’s first ever Regional Youth Ambassador for Palestine Refugees. Photo: UNRWA

24 June 2013 – Mohammad Assaf – a resident of a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and the first Palestinian to win the singing contest “Arab Idol” – has been named a regional youth ambassador by the United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

The head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said the 23-year-old shows a personal commitment to Palestinian refugees and the UN agency.

“On behalf of everybody at UNRWA, I send warmest congratulations to Mohammad and his family,” said UNRWA Commissioner General, Filippo 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,” he added.

Mr. Assaf was born in Libya to Palestine refugee parents and was largely raised in the Khan Younis camp on the Gaza Strip.

He said he was “truly honoured” to receive the title as a self-proclaimed “son of Palestine” and a “son of UNRWA” who attended UNRWA schools and whose mother is an UNRWA teacher.

“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,” Mr. Assaf said accepting the appointment.

More than 40 per cent of the 5.3 million Palestinian refugees UNRWA aids are youths between the ages of 15 and 30.

“Being a young refugee myself, I can understand better than anybody else the challenges and the opportunities before us,” he added. “I’m committed to doing my very best to help UNRWA succeed in giving other young people like me the same chance.”


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