News / Africa

Celebrities Shine Light on Refugee Dilemma

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie delivers the message: 'No one chooses to be a refugee'
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie delivers the message: 'No one chooses to be a refugee'
Lisa Schlein
One week ahead of World Refugee Day (June 20), the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR is kicking off a campaign to highlight the impact of war on families.   International celebrities are lining up in support of the millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes, but harbor dreams of resuming the lives they left behind.  The campaign runs until the end of the year.  

Several celebrity videos that show how warfare can change a family’s future in just one minute.  But, the video does not just send out a message of despair, it holds out the hope of a better life for refugees even in the midst of hardship.  

Chief of Strategic Communications at UNHCR, Leigh Foster, says the aim of the so-called “1 family” campaign is to expose the devastating impact of war on families.  She tells VOA record numbers of people, of families have been fleeing wars in Syria, in Mali, in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We wanted to remind the public that the victims of war are just like you and me.  They are families. They are families of moms and dads and grandparents and not necessarily what we hear about in the media of rebels and combatants and military forces and that sort of thing.  We really wanted to bring it to the human level so everyone can understand who the victims really are," said Foster.

Among the well-known celebrities participating in the campaign are classical singer Barbara Hendricks U.S. Country Superstar group, Lady Antebellum; best selling author of  “The Kite Runner” and former Afghan refugee, Khaled Hosseini; and international supermodel and former refugee from Sudan, Alek Wek.  

The celebrities are sending out messages to sensitize the public to the plight of refugees.  They would like the public to stop thinking of refugees as statistics, and to think of them as individuals.  

Leigh Foster says the campaign is asking the public to contemplate the same heart-wrenching decisions that families have to make when they flee.

“It is basically getting people to take a minute and think about what it would be like if they had to flee and by doing that, we are trying to get the public to contemplate what it is like to leave everything behind and also to really understand who refugees are and why they need our help," said Foster.

Foster says the more than 40 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes are included and counted in this campaign.   She says recent conflicts have forced record numbers of families to leave everything behind.   She says an estimated two families flee from violence or persecution each minute.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs