Copyright 2002 Associated Press Ltd

[ May 28th 2002 ]

Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani will become the United Nations' latest celebrity ambassador at a ceremony in his home country, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday. Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said he was proud to appoint Armani as a goodwill ambassador for the agency, which cares for some 20 million people worldwide.

The UNHCR said the designer was chosen for his "significant contribution during the Afghan refugee emergency. "I was impressed by Giorgio Armani's rapid and effective mobilization of his company's resources to help Afghan refugees," Lubbers said in a statement. "He was active on several fronts, including fund raising and drawing public attention to the crisis." The Giorgio Armani Christmas campaign for Afghan refugees included a "substantial donation" to UNHCR.

The Armani group also sponsored advertisements, sold specially designed sweatshirts for UNHCR, and asked its clients to make donations to the agency. Since 1954, when the late comedian Danny Kaye became the first goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Children's Fund, celebrities from the arts, sports and public life have traveled around the world promoting the work of the United Nations.

Current ambassadors include boxing great Muhammad Ali, actors Angelina Jolie and Michael Douglas, and French soccer star Zinedine Zidane.

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