TAMPA, Florida — Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a British actress, dancer and singer born in 1983 in Oxford, England. Mbatha-Raw is famously known for her role in “Doctor Who” and went on to appear in many other productions. Outside of her acting career, she engages in philanthropy campaigns advocating for refugee rights. Her appointment as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in February 2021 is one of Mbatha-Raw’s notable humanitarian achievements.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is an organization that formed in 1950 amid the aftermath of the Second World War, to assist millions of displaced Europeans. More than 70 years later, the organization continues its work of protecting and assisting refugees globally. Considering that in 2019 there were 79.5 million displaced people globally, the work of the UNHCR is imperative. Of these displaced people, 26 million are refugees. The UNHCR works in 135 countries to help displaced people with services including legal assistance, administration, community services, public affairs and health.
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador 2021
The UNHCR has named British actor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, its newest global Goodwill Ambassador in February of 2021. After being appointed, Mbatha-Raw said of refugees and displaced people, “I am always amazed by their courage and strength in the face of such seemingly insurmountable odds and it’s a real honor to play a part in sharing their stories.” Mbatha-Raw believes assisting in amplifying refugee voices can help make a difference. She has been a UNHCR supporter since 2018 and is an outspoken advocate for refugee rights. She has spent time directly learning about the experiences of refugees and has appeared at UNHCR events as part of her public support for refugees.
Mbatha-Raw’s active participation in UNHCR’s EveryOneCounts campaign, which challenges xenophobia and advocates for greater connections to develop solutions to global displacement, demonstrates her devotion to the UNHCR and her advocacy for citizens forced to flee. Mbatha-Raw has spent time directly in the field, embarking on visits to Rwanda and Uganda to speak directly to Burundian and Congolese refugees. There, she listened to first-hand accounts from refugee women who survived sexual violence and refugee youths experiencing prejudice due to albinism.
Advocating for Refugees Globally
Mbatha-Raw has publicly advocated for refugees at UNHCR events in London, Los Angeles and Venice. Fully utilizing her celebrity platform for the greater good, Mbatha-Raw uses her social media platforms to post her artwork promoting refugee awareness. She is also a strong supporter of MADE51, a program that helps refugee artisans market their goods around the world. In addition, Mbatha-Raw has written about her experiences with UNHCR for publications such as Refinery29 and Vogue. As the global pandemic still unfolds, Mbatha-Raw has contributed to UNHCR’s COVID-19 awareness campaign, collecting funds for the Covid Solidarity Appeal.
The appointment of Mbatha-Raw as UNHCR’s Goodwill Ambassador will aid in global refugee awareness, and thus, global refugee protection. During the COVID-19 global crisis, refugees everywhere are even more vulnerable. Mbatha-Raw’s opportunity to speak to a larger platform in support of refugees will benefit refugee families all over the world.
– Mary McLean
Photo: Wikimedia Commons