Posts Tagged ‘UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador’

The Swimmers: Netflix film about Syrian refugee swimmers

September 15, 2022

UNHCR announced on 9 September 2022 that a new Netflix film, The Swimmers, tells the remarkable tale of Yusra Mardini, a young Syrian refugee and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, who escaped conflict and went on to compete in two Olympics.

“This is a movie that any person in the world can relate to,” the 24-year-old said shortly before the film’s world premiere on Thursday at the prestigious opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). “We want the movie to make a difference.” UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yusra Mardini hopes the dramatic new film of her and her sister’s escape from conflict to new lives in Europe will challenge attitudes towards refugees.

Directed by acclaimed Egyptian-Welsh filmmaker Sally El Hosaini of My Brother the Devil, the film stars Lebanese actors and real-life sisters Nathalie and Manal Issa, as Yusra and her older sibling Sara.

It tells the story of their childhood in Damascus, their focus on swimming from a young age, and their dramatic journey to Europe in 2015 that saw them help save the lives of fellow refugees by jumping into the water and steering their stricken dinghy to shore through the Aegean Sea’s dark waters.

While the public will have to wait until 23 November for the film’s general release, Mardini has already seen it twice and says it is impossible for her to pick the best moments. “Honestly, the whole movie is my favourite scene!” she says.

She hopes it will prove much more than simple entertainment. “This movie is going to put the conversation on the table of what a refugee is, of what we want to change,” says Yusra.

El Hosaini, the director, echoes this ambition. “My greatest hope for the film is that it subverts the tired stereotypes of both refugees and young Arab women.

“I want the film to remind us that refugees are regular people with full, regular lives, with hopes and dreams. Ordinary people who’ve had to make unimaginable choices, leaving their homes and risking everything in search of a safer, better life.”

Since becoming the youngest ever UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2017, and competing as a swimmer in both the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Yusra has emerged as a leading voice for refugees, one that The Swimmers will amplify still further.e

To change perceptions of refugees, understanding must come first, she says. “The education systems have to change: they have to be more open, they have to teach the stories of migrants and refugees,” says Yusra, who hopes sharing her story far and wide, through her 2018 memoir Butterfly and now The Swimmers, will help educate people about the potential, and the value, that all refugees have. “We have to treat everyone the same,” she says.

The Olympic Games changed the way I think about being a refugee. I walked into the stadium in Rio and I realised that I can inspire so many people. I realised that ‘refugee’ is just a word, and what you would do with it is the most important thing.”

Despite being in the Hollywood spotlight, Yusra has not lost sight of her calling. “A lot still has to change for refugees,” she says. “This is not the end. This is just the beginning.”

https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2022/9/631b527f4/netflix-brings-yusra-mardinis-inspiring-story-world.html

Neil Gaiman launches crowdsourced animated film for Syrian refugees

December 8, 2020

Neil Gaiman launches a crowdsourced animated film to help raise funds for Syrian refugees battling freezing temperatures and icy winds amid threat of Covid-19.

Neil Gaiman – celebrated author and Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR – has joined forces with hundreds of fans and artists to release a new animated version of his poem What You Need To Be Warm.

The animated film aims to raise much needed funds for UNHCR’s Winter Appeal providing vital support for refugees in the Middle East including Syrian and Iraqi refugees, many of whom are battling their ninth winter away from home. This year is the hardest yet as refugees face snow, rain and freezing temperatures, as well as the impact of Covid-19 which has dramatically affected vulnerable families, put health at risk, devastated livelihoods, and pushed more refugees out into the cold.

Neil Gaiman said: “This animated film was a chance for people to come together to help raise awareness and life-saving funds to protect these families. I was blown away by the response and quality of drawings submitted online. People really care and want to help and they still can by making a donation

https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2020/12/5fce20a14/neil-gaiman-launches-crowdsourced-animated-film-help-raise-funds-syrian.html

Angelina Jolie addressed UN forcefully on crucial role of women

May 4, 2019

Angelina Jolie Addresses Women's Rights at the UN

UNTV via AP Video

And just in case you missed it, on Friday 29 March 2019, Angelina Jolie warned at the UN that the world “will remain stuck in a cycle of violence and conflicts” as long as nations continue to put almost every other issue ahead of women’s equality, rights and participation. In her speech to the annual meeting of foreign and defense ministers, the Oscar-winning actress focused primarily on women, but she also talked about the importance of multilateralism and the growing refugee crisis. She showed again that she is an excellent speaker [see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/27/angelina-jolie-gives-2017-sergio-vieira-de-mello-lecture-on-15-march-2017/].

Jolie, who is a special envoy for the UNHCR, added in a keynote address to a ministerial meeting on U.N. peacekeeping that “denying half a population representation in peace negotiations or in government is not the route to long-term stability.” There are many examples around the world of successful and inspiring women, she said, “but women and girls are still the majority of the victims of war,” over half the world’s refugees, and “the vast majority” of victims of rape and sexual violence. If the world accepted the principle that those affected by a problem should be charged with determining a solution, Jolie said, “then the majority of the world’s peace negotiators, foreign ministers and diplomats would be women.” But she quickly said: “We all know the reality.” The reality, Jolie added, is that unequal power relations, “abuse of power, gender bias, violence and lack of justice” have kept many women in a subordinate and vulnerable position internationally.

She pointed to missile strikes on schools and hospitals, families bombed in their homes, chemical weapons dropped on neighborhoods, besieged areas unable to get aid, and mass rapes.

We seem incapable of upholding minimum standards of humanity in many parts of the world,” Jolie said. “That this comes at a time when humankind is richer and more technologically advanced than ever before is all the more painful.”

She recalled that there were fewer than 20 million displaced people when she started working with the UNHCR. “Today there are over 65 million people displaced, and the numbers are rising,” Jolie said. ” Peacekeepers who commit violations must be investigated and prosecuted, she said, and there must be no impunity for crimes committed against women and girls during conflict. Above all, Jolie said, the world needs to understand “that women are themselves protectors: As mothers. As peacekeepers. As human rights defenders.” “As long as we continue to put almost every other issue ahead of women’s rights and participation we will remain stuck in a cycle of violence and conflict. We will have learned nothing. And our institutions will count for less than they should,” Jolie said.

UNHCR launches 2015 World Refugee Day with celebrity support

June 17, 2015

For World Refugee Day 2015 (20 June) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] has released several films featuring celebrity supporters that tell the human side of the refugee plight. This years’ campaign aims to bring the public closer to the story, showing refugees as ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances. World Refugee Day 2015 is marked against a backdrop of multiple conflicts, growing numbers of forcibly displaced people and a rising tide of intolerance and xenophobia in many parts of the world.

The films feature UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and best-selling author, Khaled Hosseini, photographer and supermodel Helena Christensen, singer/songwriter Maher Zain and actor Jung Woo-Sung . The films were recorded during recent field visits. Each supporter introduces an individual refugee and their story. These films and other refugee stories can be found on UNHCR’s Campaign website: www.refugeeday.org.

UNHCR offices in some 120 countries are planning various events including the film première of Salam Neighbor in Washington D.C.

 

The site www.refugeeday.org features stories from refugees who describe in their own words their own passions and interests; cooking, music, poetry, or sports. Through their testimonials UNHCR aims to show that these are ordinary people living through extraordinary times.

via UNHCR – UNHCR launches its 2015 World Refugee Day Campaign.