Published September 8th, 2006 - 07:57 GMT

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today released a music video by the Lebanese singer Assi Helani, who donated his voice and celebrity status to produce a song dedicated to WFP to raise awareness and support for thousands of children suffering daily from poverty and hunger.

During the four-minute-long song entitled, “You Remain Silent”, the music video depicts a happy young girl enjoying life until hunger attacks, turning her life into one of suffering and depression.

Addressing the little girl, Helani sings: “You remain silent, you do not talk. Hey, young child in pain! You are crying from within but your eyes have no tears…Not a single tear to shed. The words you try to speak are strangled by the monster of hunger.”

The song ends with Helani addressing the world: “Do not forget you are human, do not hesitate. For whatever little you give, is always better than nothing.”
The music, which was written by Helani, is dedicated to child hunger. The lyrics were written by Nizar Francis and the video was directed by Said El Marouk, who along with Helani, worked on it on a donation basis for WFP, which produced it.

The music video will be broadcast next week on Arab TV stations in the Middle East.

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. He held charity and fundraising concerts throughout the Middle East to help the poor.

"We are very grateful to Assi Helani and all other artists who are helping us raise awareness about poverty and deprivation. This crucial help gives us greater strength in the fight against poverty,” said Naila Sabra, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

In 2005, WFP assisted nearly 22 million schoolchildren (nearly half of whom were girls) in 74 countries by providing school meals/take-home rations.

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.

A press conference will be held today at the Semiramsis Hotel in Cairo at 20:00 hours. The hotel is covering the costs of the room and facilities for this humanitarian event.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People. Visit our website: www.wfp.org


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