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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid