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Ethiopian female singer named as UNHCR’s high profile supporter

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Ethiopian singer Betty G visited South Sudanese refugees in Gure Shombola Camp on 2 October 2017. (UNHCR Photo)

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

October 7, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has named Ethiopian singer and songwriter Betty G, as the country’s high profile supporter of the agency.

Betty G is one of Africa’s fastest rising music stars, catapulted to stardom following the release of her debut album “Manew Fitsum” in 2015.

UNHCR’s Representative in Ethiopia, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, welcomed Betty G at the Agency’s Country Office in Addis Ababa, ahead of the singer’s visit to a refugee camp in Western Ethiopia, noting that UNHCR looked forward to embarking on this new and exciting collaboration to further the mandate of the agency in Ethiopia to protect and serve refugees.

She said, “We have a government that is willing to do even more for refugees. Your voice, talent and prominent role in the field of arts, will help to expand knowledge and awareness of some 850,000 refugees currently hosted in the country.”

Betty G recently gained fame across Africa following her appearances in Coke Studio Africa. As a high profile supporter for UNHCR, she joins an influential group in the public domain who use their influence, dedication and hard work to raise funds, awareness and advocate for refugees.

"I am happy to work alongside UNHCR in raising the voices of refugees in Ethiopia and beyond”, the 31-year-old singer said, officially accepting her nomination.

“I am really touched and deeply inspired by the refugees’ strength to keep moving forward despite the odds”.

Betty G applauded Ethiopia’s generous asylum policy, adding that she prides herself in being a citizen of a country willing to always keep its borders open for those in need.

In her first official engagement with UNHCR recently, Betty G visited Gure-Shombola Camp in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia where over 3,000 newly arrived South Sudanese refugees have been sheltered. She met with refugee families, women and girls to learn about the situation in South Sudan and their recent displacement.

“It is really shocking to see the enormity of the unmet needs the refugees have”, she told a UNHCR staff after visiting the camp.

“I met with children. They brightened up my day; some of them want to be future leaders or doctors; others want to be teachers, even pilots”, she said and added, “It is a beautiful thing to see that, despite their predicament, they still keep their hopes and dreams alive”.

The new UNHCR high profile supporter said she was very inspired to see the motivation of children to be educated, to invest in their future and contribute to their communities, calling for additional support to help children fully realize their ambitions.

Born and raised in Ethiopia, Betty G grew up in a French high school and graduated from college in the French system.

Her multicultural background informs her music in every respect, brightly painting her lyrics in French, English, and Amharic; the official language of Ethiopia.

Betty G, has a strong commitment to further humanitarian causes, having actively supported women’s empowerment initiatives in the country. She has performed at charitable concerts, most recently at the festival of water in Ethiopia in April this year, with proceeds going to clean water and sanitation projects.

“After today, my life is going to be changed for good. I know that most of the Ethiopian population face similar problems. But at least they are at home and have the comfort of being at home. Refugees are not at home, they feel lost and in need. I believe that if we could all work together, we can all make a difference for the better.”

Ethiopia, one of the original signatory nations to the 1951 Refugee Convention, is currently host to the second largest refugee population in Africa, sheltering 852,721 registered refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.

(ST)

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