- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2011

BAGHDAD (AP) - Crooning of love, Iraq’s most famous singer returned to Baghdad on Monday after 14 years abroad to be named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF.

Kadim al-Sahir said as a Goodwill Ambassador, he would inspect villages and schools.

“I will visit villages to help the children who study in mud schools and are deprived of the simple rights of childhood,” he said. “My message to Iraqi officials is to take care of children … who are the shining future of Iraq.”

Al-Sahir left Iraq in 1997 and has spent most of his time since then working and traveling through Arab countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.

Both a composer and singer, al-Sahir is one of the few performers in the Arab world’s pop music scene who sing in classical Arabic.

“My hope is to draw a smile on the face of each Iraqi child,” he said.

Goodwill Ambassadors have long been a staple of UNICEF. The ambassadors visit field projects and programs around the world as a way to draw attention to children in peril and raise money for the U.N. aid agency.

Other celebrities who have represented UNICEF as Goodwill Ambassadors include soccer star David Beckham, and actresses Mia Farrow and Susan Sarandon, according to UNICEF’s website.