Blanchett, other movie stars spotlight plight of refugees

Blanchett, other movie stars spotlight plight of refugees

Wallet, phone, high school diploma and a one-way ticket – just a few of the things refugees may grab as they cast one last look around their home before fleeing.

“What they took with them” is a new video featuring Oscar-winning actor and UN ambassador Cate Blanchett and a cast of celebrities urging governments to ensure schooling, health and shelter for refugees ahead of a major UN summit on the crisis.

Launched by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Monday, the film shows Hollywood actors – including Keira Knightley, Jesse Eisenberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor – performing a poem listing items refugees took with them as they fled into exile.

“I think it captures the sense of ‘what would I take? ‘What would I do?’" Blanchett said to fellow Australian actor Chris Hemsworth in an interview live-streamed on Facebook.

“For me, one of the powerful things in the poem was the word ‘housekeys’ – that people take their housekeys, when they’re fleeing, because they want to return home.”

Blanchett, a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, said she hoped to draw attention to the 65 million people displaced worldwide, including the 4.8 million Syrian refugees.

The video urges viewers to sign the #WithRefugees petition, which asks governments to ensure every refugee has an education, a safe home, and the right to work.

The petition, with nearly a million signatures, will be delivered to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday ahead of an historic refugee summit on September 19 at UN headquarters in New York.

The gathering will be the first top-level summit called by the United Nations to seek an international response to the global refugee crisis.

On Tuesday, British actresses Juliet Stevenson and Anne-Marie Duff will read the testimonies of women refugees who fled violence in Iraq and Afghanistan at an event in London to highlight their plight.

“The situation for all refugees forced to flee their homes is appalling, but there are particular hardships for the women among them. Yet they are often silent,” Stevenson said ahead of the event hosted by CARE International and Women for Refugee Women. [Thomson Reuters Foundation]

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.