Queen Rania accepts humanitarian award and urges collective action in support of children in Palestine, Iraq, and beyond

November 29, 2007

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department – Germany) Beyond the red carpet glittering with star power and into the dazzling hall of the 59th Annual Bambi Awards, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah took center stage to accept the distinguished humanitarian award for her tireless work in advocating child welfare and promoting women’s issues.
True to her role as an advocate for children, the Queen highlighted the humanitarian crisis for children in Palestine, Iraq and beyond and encouraged collective action to better their lives, as she accepted the award. 
Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who referred to Her Majesty’s humanitarian work as “the symbol of hope for the Arab world”, presented the Queen with the award. Genscher lauded the value of Queen Rania’s work, saying “she invests all her influence and strength to serve women and children in her society…She is a Queen aware of her responsibility, who has become a Queen of humanity in the best sense of the word – she builds brides between cultures and religions.”
Each year, the ceremony draws attention to prominent charitable and advocacy work for the benefit of children, and highlights causes such as cancer research and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Past recipients include Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, President Bill Clinton, President Anwar Sadat, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, and Sophia Loren, who was also recognized Thursday night for her lifetime achievements. 
Playing on the link between the award and the iconic Disney deer, Queen Rania warned that “Sad as it is, Bambi is only fiction… it is make-believe. But for many children, some of its themes- sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, growing up too soon, and struggling to survive-are tragically real.”
Queen Rania’s tone quickly turned serious as she detailed the plight of millions of children suffering from preventable traumas. “Around the world today, there are too many heartbreaking scenes and they are not being played out on cinema screens or on DVDs. They are real stories. And for too many children, they are playing out every minute of every day,” she said.
Emphasizing the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, the Queen reminded her audience, of over 7 million viewers, of the children of Palestine and in Iraq who are caught up in senseless tragedies and violence. 
“[These scenes] are real for an entire generation of boys and girls growing up in Gaza, Palestine, who are stunted physically for lack of food; stunted emotionally because they live in a virtual prison; and stunted academically because they are trying to learn in a climate of deprivation and fear that no child should have to endure. They are real for the more than 1.6 million Iraqis under the age of 12 who have been rendered homeless in their own country and now depend on the Red Crescent for survival.”
Her Majesty also spoke on behalf of all the world’s vulnerable children as she reminded her audience of “the 30,000 children under five who perish every day – many for want of the basic childhood vaccines that Germans and Jordanians take for granted... the 2 million children around the world trapped in dark corners of sweatshops, their young shoulders burdened by the responsibility of feeding their families on paltry wages, their small hands irreparably gnarled or burned by chemicals and beatings. And they are real for the 58 million girls collecting water and caring for siblings when they should be learning with their friends in school.”

Still as she accepted the honour, the Queen shed an optimistic light on the situation. “If we work together, we can change these stories and statistics; we can lift the lives of our most precious citizens,” she said, “So tonight, as we celebrate individuals’ achievements, let us remember we belong to one family, and that the children who do not have anyone to hug them when they are sick, or the children who are doing housework not homework, or the children who are missing out on their childhoods are our children and our responsibility.”
“Let us pledge to give all of them our full attention. Let us pledge to take a lead role in their futures. Let us leave this room with the resolve to make their lives better, safer, and healthier,” said the Queen to an audience of international movers and shakers including the Prime Minister Jurgen Ruttgers, Bambi founder and media mogul Hubert Burda, and a number of high profile business leaders., “And let us ensure that more children get the healthy beginnings they deserve, and the happy endings they dream of.”
Other attendees this year included famous personalities such as Sophia Loren, Eva Longoria, Boris Becker, Tom Cruise and Katie Holms, and musical performances by Jon Bon Jovi, James Blunt, Rihanna and even a surprise appearance by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.