The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today appointed famed Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani as the agency's newest Goodwill Ambassador.
Mr. Armani has been working with UNHCR over the past year - in a personal capacity as well as through his company - by lending support to the agency's public awareness and fund-raising efforts for refugees, especially during emergencies.
Voicing gratitude to Mr. Armani for accepting the role of Goodwill Ambassador, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers hailed the designer's "rapid and effective" mobilization of resources in response to the agency's emergency appeal for Afghan refugees last year. "He was active on several fronts, including fundraising and drawing public attention to the crisis," said Mr. Lubbers. "He will be a great partner to UNHCR in mobilizing support for some of the world's most unfortunate and needy people."
For his part, Mr. Armani voiced appreciation for the opportunity to help UNHCR. "I am accepting this role with humility, recognizing that the challenges for the world's refugees are significant, but I have always believed that each individual has an opportunity to make a difference, and I hope that I may have a chance to do just that," he said. "I am particularly committed to assisting young refugees gain the means to rebuild their lives; after all, children are our future."
The designer will visit refugee camps later this year to learn more about UNHCR's education and vocational training projects. Among other activities, the new Goodwill Ambassador plans to provide support for UNHCR income-generating projects for refugees.
The formal announcement of Mr. Armani's appointment was scheduled for Tuesday evening in Modena, Italy, during the annual "Pavarotti and Friends" concert, which will benefit of Angolan refugees in Zambia. The concert programme included celebrated Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, as well as such musical stars as Sting, Lou Reed, Andrea Bocelli and James Brown.
Other UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors include actress Angelina Jolie of the United States, Swedish-American classical singer Barbara Hendricks, and Egyptian actor Adel Imam.