- Cape Verde's Cesária Évora, one of Africa's greatest singers, who for years has refused to associate her name with any humanitarian agency, was today named a UN ambassador to fight hunger through school feeding programmes, particularly on her own continent where 40 million people need life-saving emergency food aid.
- It is a great privilege to have Cesária Évora joining us, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), James T Morris, who is currently in Portugal, said of Ms Évora's appointment as WFP Ambassador against hunger and in favour of school feeding. "We believe that her voice will be a great contribution to our efforts to eliminate hunger from the face of the earth."
- It is our hope that people around the world can become aware of hunger's devastating dimensions through the voice of one of the world's greatest artists, added Mr Morris.
Cesária Évora has earned the nickname of the barefoot diva because of her willingness to appear on stage in bare feet to remind audiences of disadvantaged women and children in Cape Verde.
Until now, she has always refused to associate her name with any humanitarian agency. But she accepted the role of WFP Ambassador after witnessing the impact of the UN agency's School Feeding Programme in her home country, Cape Verde.
- I saw with my own eyes how food attracted children to school, she said. "We need to educate our children if we want our continent to prosper, but they can't learn if they go to school hungry."
In her new role, Ms Évora has agreed to hold a charity concert on 13 December in Rome, Italy, to support WFP operations in Africa and highlight the plight of some 40 million people, who depend on emergency food aid for survival.
WFP's School Feeding Programme provides a hot and nutritious meal to more than 15.6 million children in 62 countries, making the agency the biggest organizer of school feeding programmes in the developing world. In Cape Verde, more than 100,000 pupils receive a WFP meal during the school day on every single island, in every district.
Every day nearly 24,000 people die of hunger or hunger-related causes and Africa is a top priority for WFP, which provides food assistance to more than 72 million people in 82 countries a year, mostly women and children. In Africa the food situation is exacerbated by armed conflicts, natural disasters and extreme poverty.
Cesária Évora's appointment as WFP Ambassador coincides with WFP's participation in the CPLP (Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries) Council of Ministers' Meeting in Lisbon. The two bodies are discussing cooperation in the fight against hunger and poverty.
All CPLP countries have at some point received WFP food aid, the UN agency recalls.
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