MOSUL, Iraq — Ewan McGregor, a Scottish actor most famous for his roles in Trainspotting and the Star Wars saga, has been a UNICEF Ambassador since 2004. According to The Scotsman, a Scottish national newspaper, McGregor has traveled to numerous countries representing UNICEF, including Peru and the Congo.
Recently, the actor traveled to northern Iraq, where thousands of civilians have escaped from Mosul, a large city that has been controlled by ISIS since June 2014. Families are forced to flee under the cover of darkness because they fear that they will be spotted and killed by snipers during the daytime. Kurdish soldiers on the outskirts of the city welcome those who have survived the journey, which can take hours, and eventually send them to nearby camps.
McGregor visited the Debaga camp where he interacted with numerous families that were forced to abandon their homes in and around Mosul. The ambassador also met Syrian refugees that inhabit many of the camps in northern Iraq.
Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in the current Iraqi refugee crisis. According to a UNICEF press release, in Iraq “about 3.6 million children — one in five — are at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups”.
McGregor stated that “children uprooted by conflict can find themselves alone, without family and in grave danger”. If they are left alone, children are susceptible to human trafficking, ISIS and the harsh elements of the Iraqi desert.
Although UNICEF is providing food, water, shelter and education to the children, it is not enough. The actor believes that “it’s up to us to tell our friends, our neighbors and our governments that refugees are welcome”.
On September 19, this issue will be addressed at the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York City. UNICEF Ambassadors such as Ewan McGregor hope that events such as this will shed more light on the growing refugee crisis in the Middle East and Africa.
– Liam Travers