UN World Food Programme

Pavarotti memorial concert to help WFP in Afghanistan

The great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti's legacy, a year after his death, now includes a special memorial ceremony and concert to raise funds for UN projects supporting refugees in Afghanistan.

The great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti's legacy, a year after his death, now includes a special memorial ceremony and concert to raise funds for UN projects supporting refugees in Afghanistan.

Major artists of the world's classical and popular music stages will perform at the concert, set to take place at the international landmark site of Petra in Jordan on 12 October -- Pavarotti’s birthday.

A dream once shared by King Hussein of Jordan and Luciano
Pavarotti's widow Nicoletta Mantovani

The line-up of artists, to be announced in September, is expected to include many of the musicians who joined the opera singer in the pivotal "Pavarotti & Friends" charity concerts he led in his hometown, Modena.

"A concert in Petra was a dream once shared by the late King Hussein of Jordan and Luciano," says Pavarotti's widow Nicoletta Mantovani, noting that the event has been made possible by the king's daughter, Princess Haya.

The princess has long shared Pavarotti's commitment to supporting the UN's humanitarian work. She is a designated UN Messenger of Peace, as was the late tenor, and served a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme (WFP) from 2005 to 2007.

Atmospheric location

Petra is a deeply atmospheric location for the memorial concert. Flanked by towering mountains, it was an important city in ancient times and is treasured for its buildings cut into the rock. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985.

Funds from the concert will support projects run jointly in Afghanistan by WFP and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The two agencies are amongst the most active humanitarian organisations in the country.

The Pavarottis have taken a special interest in Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, and in the past have supported Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Using the concert to help the two UN agencies to assist those refugees as they return to their battle-scarred country is a natural progression.

Millions of hungry

The memorial concert is not only an opportunity to raise funds for the work of WFP and UNHCR, but also a way of focusing the world’s attention on the plight of the millions of hungry people in Afghanistan.

WFP provided food assistance to about 5 million people in Afghanistan in 2007, targeting chronically poor schoolchildren, teachers, widows, illiterate people, the disabled, internally displaced persons and tuberculosis patients.

Of the 5.2 million refugees that have returned to Afghanistan over the past five years, more than 4 million did so with the assistance of UNHCR. The refugee agency provides temporary shelters and emergency cash grants, as well as help with legal issues.