Actor Ben Stiller has been named global goodwill ambassador to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
The agency announced the appointment on Monday after Stiller concluded a trip with UNHCR to Guatemala, where he met refugees who fled from their homes in Central America to escape violence from organized criminal groups and gangs.
In recent years a growing number of people across El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have fled extraordinary, unchecked violence at the hands of organized criminal groups and gangs – including murder, rape, abduction and even the forcible recruitment of children into gangs. Stiller spent time in Guatemala meeting refugees including unaccompanied children and seeing how UNHCR, with the Government and its partners, is working to support and protect them.
Commenting today on his new role as Goodwill Ambassador, Stiller said, “I am enormously honored and proud to take on this role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. UNHCR is an organization that is working tirelessly all over the world helping men, women and children fleeing war, terror and persecution. Here in Guatemala, the families, including children, that I met experienced fear and violence back home that is beyond imagination. They are vulnerable and have suffered immensely. They need help. UNHCR is on the ground here with its partners providing them with support, protection and shelter.
Stiller accompanied the agency on the recent visit to see how it works to support and protect refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who fled groups engaged in rape, murder, abduction and “the forcible recruitment of children into gangs,” according to UNHCR.
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller speaks with a woman who has recently arrived at a transit
shelter supported by UNHCR in Flores, Guatemala. © UNHCR/Michael Muller
“Here in Guatemala, the families, including children, that I met experienced fear and violence back home that is beyond imagination,” Stiller said in a statement. “They are vulnerable and have suffered immensely. They need help. UNHCR is on the ground here with its partners providing them with support, protection and shelter.”
Stiller continued, “With over 68 million displaced people around the world today, there has never been a more compelling reason or greater urgency to show solidarity and support for refugees. I for one will do what I can as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, to advocate for refugees and encourage others to join me.”
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said, “Ben will be a great Goodwill Ambassador. I have witnessed personally his commitment to the world’s refugees and his extraordinary capacity to talk about the complicated issue of displacement in a manner that is clear, passionate and convincing. And this is precisely the role of Goodwill Ambassadors: to raise awareness, generate support and give a voice to those who have been forced to leave their homes. I am looking forward to working with him.”
Ben Stiller has been supporting UNHCR since early 2016, meeting with refugees in Germany and Jordan. Best known for his role in films like Dodgeball, Zoolander and Meet the Parents, Stiller has played a key role in UNHCR projects including the #withrefugees campaign.