Rita Ora urges Eurovision fans to think about plight of Ukrainian refugees
Rita Ora wants Eurovision fans to remember Britain’s part in sheltering Ukrainian refugees.
The singer paid tribute to the plight of people fleeing war-torn Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the nation just before she took to the stage for a dress rehearsal just hours ahead of her show at the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, when she is set to perform on Tuesday (09.05.23) night at Liverpool’s M and S Bank Arena for the contest’s first semi-final.
She said alongside a picture of her backstage with a 12-year-old girl: “This is Sofiia – A dancer and refugee from Rivne, in the northwest of Kyiv. She has been living in Warrington since 2022.
“To me, Sofiia represents strength and hope during these turbulent, tragic and changeable times.
“We must not forget the privilege the UK has to play its part as Host Nation at the Eurovision 2023 for the Ukraine after the Kalush Orchestra won the contest last year.”
Referring to how she came to Britain after fleeing her native country Kosovo in the early 1990s to seek refuge in the UK, Rita added: “The plight of Sofiia’s family reminds me of the incredible journey my family went through when I was her age, and how I will be forever grateful to the UK for showing us kindness and compassion.
“Sofiia opens my performance this evening playing with a ball, representing the loss of childhood for these poor refugees. I hope this amazing song contest opens hearts across Europe and the world.
“We love you Ukraine, we all perform tonight, for you.”
Sofiia Kladko is one of the 54 dancers performing with Rita on Tuesday, including 30 dancers from The Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts.
The Eurovision semi-finals will take place across two days and feature an array of performances, including from Eurovision veterans as well as Ukrainian and British stars.
During her Eurovision performance at the first semi-final, Rita will exclusively perform her latest single ‘Praising You’ live for the first time.
She auditioned to sing for Britain at the contest in 2009, before pulling out after getting through to the final stages of the competition.
Rita, who was 17 years old at the time, later said she decided to quit as she “felt inside that it wasn’t right for me”.