BEIJING, China – The Refugee Convention in 1951 established UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees), and notably defined a refugee as someone who, due to “…well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” Since the initial days of UNHCR, millions of refugees have been protected and able to preserve freedom for themselves and their families.
Even now, more than sixty years since UNHCR was founded, a refugee crisis is still very much living in our world. Fortunately for many of the struggling refugees, prayers for help are sometimes answered.
According to UNHCR.org, publication can be a significant tool to spread awareness about refugees, and to report on UNHCR’s activity on both local and international levels. An easy way to spread UNHCR’s operations in regions around the world is to utilize the World Wide Web. Social media is a new age means of interaction where people can exchange information via Internet applications. Top social networking sites in the U.S include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram with new applications developed often.
Nations outside of the U.S. also make use of the millennial social networking trend. Notably, Chinese actress Yao Chen, famous for her iconic role in the television series “Undercover” in 2008, has worked with world-renowned directors Chen Kaige and Feng Xiaogang. While Chen is one of China’s most popular actresses, she is one of the world’s top micro-blogging mavens. Chen has used her celebrity status to share real issues of the refugee crisis with an astounding 48 million followers. Named “The Queen of Weibo”— China’s equivalent social networking platform to Twitter— Chen has created a powerful influence through social media.
Yao Chen began work with the UNHCR in 2010, and since then has been named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2013. Chen, the first person in China to have received such a title, has met with refugees in nations including Myanmar, Somalia, and Sudan. By sharing her humbling experiences through her blog, she is able to share refugee issues with the Chinese-speaking population.
On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, UNCHR Chief Antonio Guterres presented Yao Chen a letter and certificate of appointment in Beijing. Guterres commended Chen on her influential work as an advocate for refugees across the globe. Guterres remarked, “I am very happy to have someone like you supporting the cause of refugees. Public awareness of UNHCR in China has multiplied thanks to your support.”
Chen spoke about how humbled she is when she visits refugees. She is always in awe of the resilience and kind attitudes many of the refugees hold even under such adverse circumstances. In Beijing, Chen recalled, “Even though they had so little, they were so generous.”
– Laura Reinacher