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At a glance: Syrian Arab Republic

Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo brings a message of peace to Damascus

UNICEF Image: Syria, Anjelique Kidjo, 2008 World Music Festival
© UNICEF Syria/2008/Rashidi
More than 30 children joined Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo on stage for an energetic performance at the close of the 2008 World Music Festival in Damascus.

By Razan Rashidi

DAMASCUS, Syria, 30 July 2008 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo performed for the 2008 World Music Festival at the Damascus Citadel last week, delivering a message of peace, hope and protection for all children.

“We should engage all our capacity to make sure that our children are safe,” Ms. Kidjo said to the gathered crowd.

Ms. Kidjo captivated the Syrian and multicultural audience at the festival, but more specifically, she captivated the children in attendance. More than 30 young people joined her onstage to perform with the band.

During the performance, Ms. Kidjo recited lyrics from one of her songs, which translate into the message: “We should be proud of our identity, culture and family.”

1.5 million Iraqi refugees

Approximately 1.5 million Iraqi refugees are estimated to be living in Syria. UNICEF is working to help provide safe spaces and psychosocial support in order to rebuild a protective environment for vulnerable refugee children.

Ms. Kidjo was in Syria as an invitee of the Damascus Capital of Culture Committee. During her short stay, she met with the First Lady of Syria, Asma Al-Assad, and visited a child-friendly space in Jaramana.

The Goodwill Ambassador said she was impressed by the energy and creativity of the young people in the child-friendly space, which is supported by UNICEF and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). She was also pleased to hear the children sing for her, and later performed the same song at the festival.

UNICEF Image: Syria, Anjelique Kidjo
© UNICEF Syria/2008/Rashidi
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo visited a child-friendly space in Jaramana and met with Iraqi refugee children and their mothers.

Child-friendly spaces

In cooperation with SARC, UNICEF has established four child-friendly spaces. Managed by trained SARC volunteers, they provide a safe and secure place that offers recreational activities and services to children during the day.

Since September 2007, some 13,000 children have benefited from the psychosocial support provided in these spaces. Approximately 3,500 more children have been registered to participate in various activities since February.

The language of music

Ms. Kidjo has been actively involved in humanitarian action for many years and has been associated with UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. The internationally respected performer has crossed musical and national boundaries with her songs, which are steeped in the rhythms of her West African heritage.

Her engaging performance closed the 2008 World Music Festival. With children and adults dancing and singing, Ms. Kidjo said “goodbye” to Syria. She encouraged people to go home and to continue loving their families and children, as well as all of humanity.

“I believe music is a language beyond the colour of skin, country or culture,” she said.



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