Published August 24th, 2005 - 01:36 GMT

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that the Lebanese singer, Assi Helani, has added his voice to the growing roster of celebrities helping the UN food aid agency raise awareness about global hunger and poverty.

Popularly known as the “Arab Knight”, Helani donated his voice to shoot the latest of WFP’s 30-second Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in which he draws attention to the tragic fact that 25,000 people die from hunger every day, 18,000 of them children.

The PSA will be launched Thursday on Arab TV stations in the Middle East. An Egyptian advertising company, artists, musicians and a professional photographer also donated their services and skills for the PSA production.

“We cannot stop time, but we can stop hunger. And to help to end this tragedy, I am ready to donate my voice and popularity to the cause of fighting hunger and poverty. We must stop hunger in the world if we are all to have a better life,” Helani said.

Helani began his career in 1989 after winning a singing competition in Lebanon. But even as his popularity soared, he remained consistently involved in humanitarian issues.  In the 1990s, he held charity and fund-raising concerts throughout the Middle East to help the poor.

“We are very grateful to Assi Helani for lending us his voice to help raise awareness about hunger and poverty. His help gives us greater strength in the fight against hunger,” said Amir Abdulla, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

In 2004 alone, WFP, which is fully dependent on voluntary contributions, raised US$3.2 billion to assist 113 million impoverished people living in 80 countries.

Helani joins a number of other international celebrities who are championing WFP’s cause. They include Brazilian soccer players Ronaldinho and Kaka, film stars Sean Connery and Penelope Cruz, Grammy-award winning Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora, marathon world champion and former school feeding beneficiary Paul Tergat and Egyptian actor Mahmoud Yassin.


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