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Spanish Soccer Great Shoots in UN Hunger Battle

It’s a Goaaaaaaaaaaaaaal! Spanish Soccer Great Shoots in UN Battle Against Hunger

New York, Nov 28 2006 9:00AM

In the latest collaboration between United Nations agencies and world sports, Spain’s national soccer team captain Raúl Gónzales is shooting to combat hunger across all of Africa, the continent most seriously affected by poverty and under-nutrition.

As part of an effort to raise awareness and funding, Mr. Gónzales is visiting the Senegalese capital, Dakar, today as a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Goodwill Ambassador to tour several agency projects working to increase food production in some of the city’s poorest areas.

“I want to send a message to young people throughout the world: our generation now has a chance to do away with hunger, once and for all. We have to mobilize now to make that happen,” he said. “People must have the chance secure a dignified existence for themselves and their families in their own land, and should not be forced to emigrate in search of a better life abroad, often at great cost to themselves.”

Boatloads of Africans have often tried to make the perilous journey to the Spanish Caray Islands, off the continent’s north-west coast.

“Enjoying the support of charismatic and well-known celebrities like Raúl is a priceless help in raising public awareness of our goal to eradicate hunger, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said, adding that this visit will help remind the international community of the grave food situation in Africa.

“Africa is wracked by armed conflicts, AIDS and malaria, as well as by drought, pests, animal diseases and a lack of rural infrastructure. This situation is leading to the exodus of thousands of young Africans to industrialized countries. Spain, by dint of its proximity to Africa, is all too familiar with the grim end of so many of these voyages of desperation,” Mr. Diouf declared.

He noted that the FAO Goodwill Ambassadors Programme aimed to draw the attention of the public and the mass media to the plight of the 854 million people worldwide who continue to go hungry each day. A number of distinguished personalities have taken up the cause, such as Italian football star Roberto Baggio, singers Gilberto Gil, Youssou N'Dour, and Noa and the rock group Maná.

Other UN agencies have also joined with athletes and sports organizations to get their message across and raise funds. Only last week, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) teamed up with the European Swimming League (Ligue Européene de Natation – LEN) in “a race against time” to prevent deaths from unclean water.

Earlier this month, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) teamed up with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the governing body of women’s tennis, to promote gender equality, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) launched the “Cricket Against Hunger” partnership with the England and Wales cricket team to draw attention to the plight of the 400 million chronically hungry children around the world.

WFP has similar fund- and awareness-raising arrangements with the International Rugby Board as well as with individual stars from the worlds of soccer, American football, marathon running and Formula One auto racing.


ENDS

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