This year, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett travelled to Jordan, Niger, and South Sudan to meet with refugees. Most recently she addressed the European Parliament making a strong plea “for humane asylum policies, rooted in the 1951 Refugee Convention, and for support at every stage of the refugee journey, including countries of origin, transit and destination, and outlined the urgent need for more funding for agencies like UNHCR as forced displacement topped 114 million.”
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In July 2023, Cate visited Niger and South Sudan with UNHCR to raise awareness of work with and for refugees in both countries.
In Niger, Cate witnessed initiatives aimed at encouraging sustainable livelihoods and peaceful co-existence between refugees, internally displaced people and local communities, as well as mitigating the effects of climate change.
Cate travelled onwards from Niger to South Sudan, where she met with refugees and returnees fleeing the ongoing crisis in Sudan. Cate visited Gorom Refugee Camp and Renk Transit Centre to learn about the lived reality of those forced to flee, including many South Sudanese returnees.
In May 2023, Cate joined UNHCR’s High Commissioner in Washington DC, advocating to Congress for sustained U.S. leadership and continued bipartisan support for refugees. She also received the Humanitarian Award at the annual Kuwait-American Foundation Gala hosted by Sheikha Rima, which raised over $1m for UNHCR’s work.
This came shortly after a trip to Jordan where she visited Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan for the second time, to draw attention to the stories of refugees residing there, with a particular focus on the needs of women and girls. Whilst there, Cate reunited with Syrian refugee Alaa who she met on her first visit to the camp in 2016. In the seven years since Cate saw her last, Alaa has become a mother to three children and is now working as a teacher in a primary school in the camp. The visit also included meetings with refugees living in urban settings and struggling to make ends meet, as well as a discussing access to tertiary education for refugee students with university presidents.
Cate outlined her experiences and the devastating impact of under-funding via various media outlets including Bustle, Al Jazeera, Reuters, Asahi, El Pais, and Der Spiegel.
Cate’s support for UNHCR extends beyond field trips; she has consistently used her platform and talents to amplify the voice of refugees through her contribution to UNHCR advocacy efforts and campaigns.
Earlier in 2023, Cate joined fellow Goodwill Ambassador and former refugee Yusra Mardini in spearheading UNHCR’s Blue Ribbon initiative, encouraging celebrities to wear a ribbon at the Oscars, BAFTAs, and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In June 2023, she gave a statement at the 30th anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, affirming the importance of continued efforts to defend human rights: “if we don’t protect them, if we don’t champion them, humanity’s future is at stake”.
UNHCR’s most recent statement on Sudan highlights the worsening conflict and the increase in human rights violation against civilians. They are also calling for the “end to the fighting and for all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, including allowing the safe passage of civilians as they move in search of safety.”
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is gravely concerned at the latest developments in Sudan as fighting escalates in the Darfur region.
Those who have managed to escape across borders are arriving in droves. More than 8,000 people have fled into neighbouring Chad in the last week alone – a figure likely to be an underestimate due to challenges registering new arrivals. UNHCR, with the government and partners on the ground in Chad, is preparing for more arrivals of refugees as the conflict in Sudan rages on.
More than 800 people have been reportedly killed by armed groups in Ardamata, West Darfur, an area so far less affected by the conflict. Ardamata also housed a camp for internally displaced people, where close to 100 shelters have been razed to the ground. Extensive looting – including of UNHCR relief items – has taken place in the area.
Reports of continued sexual violence, torture, arbitrary killings, extortion of civilians and targeting of specific ethnic groups are deeply alarming. Other reports also indicate that thousands of internally displaced people had to flee a camp in El Geneina.
WARNING: Increasing violence and human rights violations against civilians in Darfur, Sudan. The world must pay attention.
?? Here’s what’s happening ??
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) November 11, 2023
? ¡Emergencia en #Sudán! Cate Blanchett, Embajadora de Buena Voluntad de ACNUR, ha viajado a terreno y su mensaje es claro: millones de personas necesitan tu ayuda. Dona en https://t.co/ua4vCH3Udj y marca la diferencia en las vidas de quienes más lo necesitan. #ConLosRefugiados pic.twitter.com/QprQyRi5ub
— Comité español de ACNUR (@eACNUR) November 3, 2023