Category: UNHCR

UNHCR – Cate Blanchett supports the new campaing Everyone Counts

UNHCR – Cate Blanchett supports the new campaing Everyone Counts

Hello dear Blanchetters!

A couple of days ago the UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, launched its new social campaing called Everyone Counts, born at the end of the very first Global Refugee Forum.

“At the start of the Global Refugee Forum today, we stand at a pivotal moment in history. UNHCR is urgently calling for increased commitment and support that will help every refugee – and the communities they are living in – to not just survive, but to thrive,” said UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett.

“Communities themselves stand to benefit by providing opportunities for refugees. Whilst we look to global leaders meeting in Geneva this week to renew and remake commitments, everyone has a role to play in supporting refugees; to access education, employment and safe living conditions. Everyone counts, every voice, every action – however small – can make a difference. We all have a positive part to play. Let’s seize this opportunity.”

Cate also had a chat with Syrian refugee and business woman Razan Alsous, whom she talked to about her most notorius achievemnet…cheese selling.

Cate Blanchett On Opening The Door To Refugees As We Enter A New Decade

“People think that refugees arrive with their suitcase in hand when they move to a new country. But they bring so much more.” These pointed words have stayed with me. They come from an extraordinary Syrian woman I recently met called Razan Alsous, who happens to be a refugee. Now living in the United Kingdom, Razan has most certainly brought more to this country than her suitcase.

It was my great privilege to encounter Razan in my role as Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Together with her husband and three children, she fled the violence in Syria seven years ago. Grateful for the safety that she and her family found in West Yorkshire, Razan naturally turned her attention to rebuilding her life and resuming her career as a pharmacist. However, like so many refugees, she found that transferring her skills and work experience to her host country very difficult. With a young family to support and the desire to stand on her own two feet, Razan wracked her brains. What could she do? How could she contribute? What could she offer?

… Cheese.

People in the UK seemed to love the halloumi that for Razan conjured memories of her home in Syria. Despite having no experience in cheese-making, Razan forged ahead into this niche market. With support and mentoring from the local community and a modest business grant, she set up her own halloumi company called Yorkshire Dama Cheese – a company which melds Syrian cultural heritage with the proud traditions and creamy produce of Yorkshire. Now in its seventh year, it is a hugely successful and multi award-winning business which provides employment to local residents and whose new factory was inaugurated by HRH Princess Anne.

As extraordinary as Razan’s story sounds, it is not that unusual. When refugees flee their homes because of conflict and persecution, they all carry intangible yet essential things with them, including their education and technical qualifications, along with their unique experiences, perspectives and potential. It’s a terrible waste of human capital when this potential and this agency remain unrealised, unharnessed and unincorporated by their host countries. Razan’s experience is irrefutable evidence that when refugees are welcomed and supported to fulfil their potential, they can take vital, validating steps beyond mere survival, to become thriving net contributors to their new communities.

Throughout history there are countless examples of refugees making unique and game-changing contributions to society; you might be surprised to learn that refugees played a part in creating British icons such as the Mini car, Marks and Spencer, and even good old fish and chips. Then you have the likes of Marc Chagall, Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein, and Hannah Arendt. And what about Adut Akech, Rita Ora, Freddie Mercury or Victor Hugo? What we would have lost if the door had been closed to them?

The young refugees I have met through UNHCR have been dynamic and inspirational. Emi Mahmoud, the incredible slam poet who is training to be a doctor; JJ Bola, published writer and educator; and Maya Ghazal who recently took her first solo flight and is on a path to becoming the first female Syrian refugee pilot – to name just a few. Our collective lives are enriched by embracing the potential, the skills, and the humanity of people we often simply label as “refugee”.

We are weeks away from 2020, and the eve of a new decade. Looking back at the previous ten years, we see a tumultuous time, full of human displacement. Refugee numbers cared for by UNHCR have doubled since 2011 and there are currently over 25 million refugees in the world. But beyond these staggering numbers lie the individuals. Let us remind ourselves that displaced people are men, women and children whose lives have been turned upside down by war, who have lost everything, and who have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in another country. This extraordinary global situation we find ourselves in today warrants an extraordinary global response.

We stand at a pivotal moment in history. On December 17th, world leaders are meeting at the Global Refugee Forum to commit more action to unlock solutions for refugees. But while we wait, every one of us can play a role, big or small, in helping refugees like Razan to thrive in the communities that host them. Every voice, every action, every one of us counts.

Everyone has a part to play. What will your role be?


UNHCR – 70th Executive Committee and Special Press Conference on Statelessness

UNHCR – 70th Executive Committee and Special Press Conference on Statelessness

Hello Blanchetters!

Two days after her appearence at the 15th Zurich Film Festival Cate Blanchett was in Geneva for the UNHCR. She attented, as Goodwill Ambassador, the 70th Session of the Executive Committee and the Special Press Conference on Statelessness.

You can watch both meeting down here.

P.s. We are looking for collaborators, if you’re interested you can mail us or contact us by the CBFChat

UNHCR – New Podcast and Collaboration

UNHCR – New Podcast and Collaboration

Hello Blanchetters!

Back in 2015 Cate was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, leading to a fruitful partnership and collaboration.
One week after the annual World Refugee Day, the UNHCR released a new podcast inteview from the series Awake at Night. You can listen it here. Alongside the podcast the UN Refugee Agency relased two new pictures from Cate’s humanitarian missions in Lebanon (2015) and in Bangladesh (2018).

Thanks to Catepedia on the CBFchat, we have news about another project Cate was involved in: she has written the foreword for the new book Forced to Flee, featuring pictures of refugees children:

The book is on sale from June 25. More infos here

We have also added to the gallery a new picture from the Hands Up for Syria fundraising (2016)

and we have replaced the picture below with a larger version (The Ideas Box – Google Zeitgeist). Enjoy!



actor, Oscar-winner and mother of four Cate Blanchett is the final guest of this season’s award-winning podcast series Awake at Night, hosted by the UN Refugee Agency. The podcast centres around remarkable individuals engaged in supporting refugees, and Blanchett, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, has dedicated herself to the cause since 2014.

In a frank and emotional conversation with Melissa Fleming, UNHCR’s Head of Global Communications, Blanchett reflects on her experiences during prior field visits with UNHCR. She recalls her time in Jordan, accompanied by her son Iggy, where she met Syrian refugees: “In Jordan you have two refugee camps [Azraq and Za’atari] and one of them is completely barren, it’s almost like a moonscape. We had this extraordinary lunch with an extended family that had been in the camp for quite some time. One of the boys was going out to play soccer. But there was a 13-year-old boy, very engaged, very cheery, that didn’t go out.”

Iggy — keen to play football with all the boys in the family — was curious to know why the cheery boy didn’t join them: “I explained that he had a wound in his foot; that he had shrapnel in his ankle as he was shot on their journey there. The colour just drained from Iggy’s face and you could see him trying to put those pieces together.”

There, in the barren, hot, Jordanian desert, might have well been the moment her son Iggy understood what it meant to be a refugee: “I think, if you told him in abstract or he’d read it in a newspaper article, he would have thought about the boy being in a hospital bed, being incredibly depressed, but you could see that this boy was still full of hope.”

When asked how being a mother has helped her with her role as a Goodwill Ambassador, Blanchett says: “Simply by being a mother you form a greater empathetic, immediate connection to the experience of refugee mothers and what they will do, the lengths they will go to try and normalize their experience as fragile as it is for their children.”

As a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, Blanchett helps raise awareness and humanize the issue of forced displacement and statelessness. She has travelled with UNHCR to meet refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Bangladesh, learning first-hand about peoples’ experiences of flight from conflict and persecution, or the challenges of statelessness and then turning this experience into powerful advocacy and human storytelling. She has turned this witness into film and drama, and also into powerful testimony at fundraising events as well as high-level meetings such as at the UN Security Council and Davos.

The Awake at Night podcast series focuses on remarkable humanitarians who provide unique and intimate insights into their work. They disclose what drives them, what they have learned from the people they serve, and the challenges and hopes that keep them awake at night.

So, what keeps Cate Blanchett awake at night? When asked this question, she vividly describes meeting a Syrian woman, an architect, at a refugee community centre in Lebanon. The woman, a mother of three, told the people gathered at the centre that she was taking a boat the next week with her children to try to reach Europe: “The room fell silent and everyone said: ‘You know how dangerous that is.’ And she said, ‘I have no choice! My children have been out of school. I have no choice!’.”

Blanchett continues: “Often, for people who get on boats, it’s not the first point of trauma. They’ve experienced starvation. They have been shot at. They have travelled miles without any medical aid. Their children are at their wits’ end, already traumatized, when they get on the boat.”

“They are doing this because they are thinking profoundly about their children’s future. They are the people who are being washed up on the beaches.”

“Think. Just think about that, as you’re drifting off to sleep.”

Blanchett’s work with refugees has also exposed her to the immense resilience and courage of refugees, despite their difficult circumstances. This reminds her of another meeting: “When we were at Azraq, I encountered a young schoolteacher whose child was a month old. It was incredibly hot. It was in the desert and they’d made their tent. He took me into a courtyard and he had planted a little tree for his daughter. He would walk for a long time every day to get enough water to feed this tree. Just the love that he was pouring into this tree. He wanted it to grow and he knew that he would probably be in the camp for quite some time. He was talking about how this tree would grow and it would shade his daughter. And it made me want to weep. I thought it was like the quintessential image of hope that a father has for his daughter. That he wanted her to play under that tree.”


UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett at a Capernaum screening in London.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett at a Capernaum screening in London.

Hello everyone!

Earlier this week, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett attended a special UNHCR/Picturehouse screening of Capernaum, film starring Zain Al-Rafeea, a Syrian refugee and directed by Nadine Labaki. The movie which opens in the UK on February 22 has got an Oscar nomination as Best Foreign Language Film and the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Here’s a photo of Cate and Nadine during the event. Enjoy!


Cate Blanchett at the 2018 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony

Cate Blanchett at the 2018 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony

Hello everyone!

On Monday, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett has joined some fellow artists in the 2018 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony held in Geneva. The award was delivered to Dr. Evan Atar Adaha, a surgeon who runs a remote hospital in South Sudan where he treats people forced to flee conflict and persecution. Cate was also interviewed by British TV presenter Anita Rani. See photos and watch the videos below.


The keynote speaker at the event, actor Cate Blanchett, who is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, earlier told the audience: “The award tonight marks a great humanitarian achievement.

“It is a formalised way of saying ‘thank you’ to one person specifically, but more importantly, it carries with it the inexpressible thanks to all who work in the humanitarian fields — often at great personal cost.”

She continued: “Hope is embodied by the field workers and volunteers, like our Nansen laureate tonight. People who bring refugees and host communities together. In these people we have not just the ground force, but the beating heart and moral impulse to achieve change.”

Blanchett concluded: “People like Dr. Atar inspire us to build a better future for everybody.”


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With one of my heroes. #cateblanchett #nansenawards @refugees

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Cate Blanchett UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador addresses the Security Council – Additional Pictures + New clip

Cate Blanchett UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador addresses the Security Council – Additional Pictures + New clip

Hello Everyone!

Last Monday Cate attended the UN Security Council meeting in New York and delivered a speech as Goodwill Ambassador for Refugees. The United Nations Facebook page posted a video with a small fragment of her speech. Also, we have added more pictures from that day to our gallery. Enjoy!

Click on the image to download the HQ version available in the gallery

Click on the image to download the HQ version available in the gallery