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Spanish TV Host Named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

Spanish TV presenter becomes Goodwill Ambassador for UN refugee agency

21 July 2008 - The prominent Spanish television presenter Jesús Vázquez has been appointed as the latest Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Pierre Bertrand, director of the agency's New York office, formally inducted Mr. Vázquez at a ceremony on Friday in which the presenter received an accreditation certificate.

Mr. Vázquez, who won one of Spanish television's most prestigious prizes, the TP de Oro, three consecutive times between 2004 and 2006, has become increasingly involved in refugee issues in recent years.

"Jesús Vázquez has great communication skills and the capacity to reach out to the minds and hearts of diverse audiences, which will help for a better understanding of the refugee cause," Mr. Bertrand said.

Mr. Vázquez said his interest in the cause was aroused when UNHCR sent him a T-shirt with a picture of Albert Einstein above a message stating that "Einstein was a Refugee."

In March last year the presenter visited Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya, where UNHCR cares for about 200,000 people, mostly Somali refugees, across three camps.

"It was inside their huts, listening to them, when I could really see the daily struggle for survival and the challenge of continuing to live when everything has been lost."

Mr. Vázquez said he plans to return soon to Dadaab to follow up on a project launched last year to create a radio communications network between the three camps that will disseminate information on health, education and humanitarian aid.

"I want to return to the camps with something more than words and promises," he said, adding that he "learned exemplary lessons of professionalism and dedication from the aid workers" he met in the field.

Mr. Vázquez joins the ranks of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors, which include the actress Angelina Jolie, the singer Barbara Hendricks and the designer Giorgio Armani.

ENDS

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