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Shakira has announced her plan to raise $200 million for the charity América Latina en Acción Solidaria (ALAS).

The singer, who is already a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and founder of Colombian charity Pies Descalzos, will stage four fundraising concerts in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and New York this year.

ALAS is dedicated to aiding impoverished communities throughout all of Latin America, focusing on improved nutrition, health and education for children. “ALAS came about because of a social emergency: 350 thousand children die each year due to avoidable causes; 40 million children work and live on the streets,” Shakira said.

Funding for ALAS comes from businesses, international institutions, NGOs and charity concerts. Other musicians involved since ALAS’s launch last December include Juanes, Alejandro Sanz, Diego Torres, Maná, Wyclef Jean and Daniela Mercury. Shakira said, “Each person has worked on projects or foundations on his own, but only now we are able to work together to develop interesting projects that will benefit everyone.”

Many more artists, such as Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin, have since joined the foundation. REM’s vocalist Michael Stipe has confirmed his participation in the ALAS benefit concert cycle in 2008, the dates of which will be officially announced later this month.

Concrete ALAS health care programmes cover mass vaccinations and pre-natal care for more pregnant women. “Let’s not forget that at the end of this day when we all go home, 960 children will have died in Latin America,” Shakira said at a UN award ceremony. The ALAS web site states, “Because we are Latin Americans we are determined to change this reality.”

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