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Global celebrities join campaign calling on governments to take action for refugees



UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today launched a major campaign that asks the world to stand together #WithRefugees. In a stunning video message more than 60 global celebrities join with refugees and aid workers to echo the message, “we stand with refugees, please stand with us.” The petition appeals for government action on behalf of the world’s forcibly displaced.

The campaign aims to demonstrate public support for families forced to flee against a backdrop of dramatically increased displacement from conflict and persecution on the one hand, and heightened anti-refugee rhetoric and greater restrictions to asylum on the other. The petition will be delivered in advance of September’s historic UN High-Level Plenary of the General Assembly on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.

Specifically, the petition asks all governments to make sure:

  • Every refugee child has an education.
  • Every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
  • Every refugee can work and learn skills to make a positive contribution to their community.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett, who appears in the video from Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, spoke about her support for the campaign:

“We are in the middle of a catastrophic displacement crisis that has already uprooted millions of innocent families, and seen too many lose their lives trying to reach safety. The ultimate solution is political—we need peace and stability. But whilst we wait for that, we—as people with a voice—can and must play our part. We must demand that all countries take a shared responsibility for ensuring refugees have protection, shelter and the chance to live a productive life. If enough of us stand together, we will be heard.”

Fellow UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors joining Blanchett in the video include author Khaled Hosseini and supermodel and former refugee Alek Wek. Others lending support include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and faith leaders Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Venerable V.Vajiramedhi and actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, Ben Stiller, Dame Helen Mirren as well as singers Juanes, Mika, Maher Zain and Babaa Maal.

“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us—except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale,” said Khaled Hosseini. “Together, in solidarity with refugees, we must demand that world leaders take collective responsibility for finding fair, lasting solutions to this crisis. Together, we must ensure humanity and compassion triumph over fear and intolerance.”

The number of people forced to flee their homes by conflict and persecution is now at its highest since the end of the Second World War. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi spoke about why UNHCR was making such a public call to support refugees.

‘’We are in a period of deepening conflict and turmoil in the world, which is causing many more people to flee their homes than before,” said Grandi. “It affects and involves us all, and what it needs is understanding, compassion and political will to come together and find real answers for the refugee plight. This has become a defining challenge of our times.

“In 2015, millions of people were newly displaced, adding again to the global refugee and internal displacement totals. Overwhelmingly, it was countries of the developing world that were most affected, but Europe too witnessed dramatic scenes, as hundreds of thousands of people crossed the Mediterranean in search of safety and refuge. Thousands died along the way.

“At the same time, there was an extraordinary outpouring of empathy and solidarity, as ordinary people and communities opened their homes and their hearts to refugees, and some countries have welcomed new arrivals even while already hosting large numbers of refugees.

“The #WithRefugees campaign and petition aims to amplify those voices of welcome and show that the world stands with refugees.”

The campaign seeks to mobilize massive audiences, creating the largest-ever petition to support refugee cause. The petition can be signed at http://www.unhcr.ca/newsroom/world-refugee-day/.

None of the contributors to the video are available for interview.

Notes to editors:
The video is also available in the following languages:
Spanish: https://youtu.be/TUUsTSe7dnY
Arabic: https://youtu.be/DiAc3KQgxXw
French: https://youtu.be/6MybfrYkqzk

Images of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors Cate Blanchett and Khaled Hosseini available here: http://media.unhcr.org/Share/kwun1u332tp2xd1px067gg10ttth3570.

All photos: © UNHCR/Jordi Matas

For more information on the #WithRefugees Campaign

In Geneva: Stephen Pattison. Tel: +41 (0)22 739 8275 pattison@unhcr.org
In London: Leona Everitt. Tel: +44 (0)7966 134226 everittl@unhcr.org

About the #WithRefugees Campaign

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency works for a world where every person forced to flee can be protected and build a better future. On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, UNHCR commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day is a key moment for everyone to show their support for families forced to flee. By signing the #WithRefugees petition, people from across the globe can call on governments to work together and do their fair share for refugees.

Full list of high profile contributors to the video and petition.

CONTRIBUTOR & SIGNEES CONTRIBUTOR TITLE
Patrick Stewart Actor
Jung Woo-sung Actor & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Douglas Booth Actor
Cate Blanchett Actor & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Benedict Cumberbatch Actor
Maher Zain Musician
Mika Musician
Alek Wek Model & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Alessandro Gassman Actor
Muzoon Almellehan Syrian refugee & advocate for education
Juanes Musician
Natalia Lafourcade Musician
David Morrissey Actor
John Green Writer
Rebecca Hall Actor
Morgan Spector Actor
Venerable V. Vajiramedhi Faith leader
Will Ferrell  Actor
Alan Cumming Actor
Kristin Davis Actor
Jillian Michaels TV personality
Khaled Hosseini Writer & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Barbara Hendricks Classical Singer & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Baaba Maal Musician
Fally Ipupa Musician
Helen Mirren Actor
John Abraham Actor & Goodwill Ambassador
Neil Gaiman Writer
Amanda Palmer Musician
Ash
Dianna Agron Actor
Gavin Rossdale Musician
Ben Stiller Actor
Bassem Youssef Satirist
Neshan Der Haroutiounian TV presenter
Elena Anaya Actor
Jesús Vásquez TV presenter & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Carlos Vives Musician
Cecilia Suárez Musician
Chiwetel Ejiofor Actor
Simon Pegg Actor
Margot Robbie Actor
Bryan Adams Musician
Rokia Taroré Musician & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Scarlett Johansson Actor
Anoushka Shankar Musician
Georgina Chapman Fashion Designer
Fatima Bhutto Poet/Writer
Bruna Marquezine Model/Actor
Theo James Actor
Dan Reynolds  Musician (Imagine Dragons)
Melitina Staniouta Gymnast
Rubén Albarrán Musician
Alberto Lati Writer
Osvaldo Laport Actor & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
Jose Moreno Brooks Actor
Katarzyna Bonda Writer
Krystyna Czubowna Journalist
Tomasz Kammel TV presenter
Lang Lang Musician
Mark Haddon Writer
Sami Yusuf Musician
The National Parks Musicians
Gillian Slovo Writer
Kamila Shamsie Writer
Amanda Palmer Musician
Steve Coogan Actor
Chris Cleave Writer
Emi Mahmoud Slam Poet
Emma Ferrer Model
Carey Mulligan Actor & War Child Ambassador
Aaron Taylor-Johnson Actor
Abbey Lee Kershaw Actor/Model
Stanley Tucci Actor
Sam Taylor-Johnson Artist/Director
Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu Faith Leader
Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General
Filippo Grandi UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Demian Bichir Actor
Alfonso Herrera Actor
Not Featured in the film but signees

to the petition

David Nicholls Writer
Jeremy Thomas Film producer
Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) Musician
Eugenio Derbez Actor
Adrian Lester Actor
Richard Curtis Producer/Director
Mark Rylance Actor