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UNRWA chief: Assaf united us in celebration

June 27, 2013 9:54 A.M. (Updated: July 1, 2013 1:50 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- UNWRA commissioner general Filipo Grandi thanked Palestinian Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf Wednesday for accepting the agency role of regional youth ambassador for Palestine refugees, a statement read.

"Mohamed has brought us all together in a unique moment of celebration," Filippo Grandi said in meeting with Assaf and UNRWA staff, a day after the singer's return.

Assaf returned home to Gaza on Tuesday to jubilant crowds after becoming the first Palestinian to win the popular singing contest Arab Idol.

The singer was raised in the Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza. He told the fans who came to see Assaf cross the Rafah border with Egypt that he was the "son of the (refugee) camp."

Grandi said Assaf made the UN agency proud that "a young man who was educated in an UNRWA school in Khan Yunis ... has shined at a world stage, and received worldwide praise."

"His golden voice speaks to us and for us. He truly is an ambassador for his generation and for his people and I can gladly tell you know that he is also an ambassador for the UNRWA," Grandi said.

Assaf, meanwhile said "I feel very proud of being named Regional Youth Ambassador and I promise the UNRWA and young refugees to set the best example for them."

Assaf’s appointment was welcomed by the UN security council.

Assaf was also appointed as goodwill Diaspora ambassador by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who said the title conferred on the singer full diplomatic privileges.

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