SEATTLE — The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has announced a new Goodwill Ambassador, who many may already know from the films Dodgeball, Meet the Parents and Zoolander. The organization has appointed producer, director and actor Ben Stiller as its newest global UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Though Stiller has been working alongside UNHCR and meeting with refugees in places such as Germany and Jordan since 2016, he has just recently accepted a formal title after his latest journey abroad to Guatemala.
What Is Ben Stiller’s Role as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador?
In Guatemala, Stiller had the opportunity to witness the hardships of these refugees firsthand. Most of these people had been violently forced from their homes due to the activity of organized criminals and gangs, which led to community members leaving in fear of the murder, abduction, rape and gang recruitment that had become increasingly common in their neighborhoods.
“With over 68 million displaced people around the world today, there has never been a more compelling reason or greater urgency to show solidarity and support for refugees,” Stiller told Look to the Stars. Though this towering number may come as a shock to most, UNHCR is confident in its decision to appoint Ben Stiller as its newest ambassador to aid its efforts in Central America.
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, commented on Stiller’s new role as the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, told Look to the Stars, “I have witnessed personally his commitment to the world’s refugees and his extraordinary capacity to talk about the complicated issue of displacement in a manner that is clear, passionate and convincing.” Someone like Ben Stiller, who can talk through the difficult times and raise awareness and support from others who may not be in the loop, is precisely the kind of person that is needed to bring aid to those in need.
He has already played a huge role in UNHCR’s #WithRefugees campaign. Most recently, Stiller was featured on the popular online magazine Buzzfeed during a special edition on World Refugee Day 2018. He and Ahmed Badr, a writer and former Iraqi refugee, made chicken shawarma, a traditional dish from Badr’s homeland. He also took part in an advocacy film that encouraged people to sign a petition expressing solidarity for the millions of people who were displaced.
What Is UNHCR Doing in Guatemala?
As an organization that works with people in locations worldwide in order to better the lives of refugees, Guatemala will surely benefit from UNHCR lending a helping hand. In this country specifically, a regional response framework known by the Spanish name MIRPS is currently underway. This framework is a plan drawn up by six governments in the area in an effort to find the root of the displacement issue in their countries and put a stop to it.
UNHCR assists in creating these types of solutions, making sure to include the countries’ governments and tackle the devastations as a unified front between UNHCR, the government and the refugees. However, what is most important to remember is that displacement is a global issue, and being on the side of the refugees will benefit everyone, not just those who are most urgently in need.
– Raven Patzke