Raúl pitches in to help fight hunger in Africa
Football star will visit agricultural development projects in Senegal
27 November 2006, Rome/Madrid - Raúl González, star of Real Madrid and captain of Spain's national soccer team, is paying a visit to Senegal today as an FAO Goodwill Ambassador in order to rally support for the UN agency's efforts to combat hunger across all of Africa.
The continent is the world region most seriously affected by poverty and under-nutrition. Of the 34 countries currently facing serious food shortages, 23 are in Africa.
Seventy-five percent of Senegal's 12 million inhabitants, 23% of who suffer from malnutrition, depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
In Dakar, the world-renown athlete will visit several FAO-run agricultural projects which are working to increase food production in some of city's poorest areas.
"I want to get a first-hand view of the situation on the ground in Africa, and also to demonstrate my solidarity with those who are suffering hunger. At the same time 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," Raúl 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," he added.
Seeing FAO's work at close quarters
Raúl will visit Fann Hospital in central Dakar, which, thanks to an FAO/Telefood project, maintains its own vegetable garden that lets it grow food used to improve the nutrition of AIDS patients. He will also see another urban agriculture project in the Hann Bel Air district in the city's poverty-stricken outskirts which is managed by women from poor families, and will meet Senegalese government authorities and hold a press conference.
"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," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, who added 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," he added.
Diouf noted that the purpose of the FAO Goodwill Ambassadors Programme is 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 FAO's cause as goodwill ambassadors, including Nobel Prize laureates, renowned artists, and famous sports stars. In addition to Raúl, they include football star Roberto Baggio, singers Gilberto Gil, Youssou N'Dour, and Noa and the rock group, Maná.
Media Relations, FAO
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