Yao Chen and UNHCR
Award-winning actress Yao Chen has shared refugee stories with millions of netizens in the Chinese-speaking world, raising public awareness and support for victims of forced displacement. She was named UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador in China in June 2013.
Yao Chen started working as UNHCR's Honorary Patron in China in June 2010, when she visited urban refugees in and around the Philippines capital, Manila. She was deeply affected by the experiences of the Somali, Sudanese and Palestinian refugees she met - ordinary people forced to flee their homes by extraordinary circumstances.
In April 2011, the actress travelled to Mae La camp in western Thailand, her first visit to a refugee camp. She met refugees from Myanmar, including recent arrivals who spoke about the atrocities they faced back home. Touched by their dignity and hospitality, Yao Chen promised to dedicate more time to refugees.
Her concern for people affected by drought and famine in the Horn of Africa prompted Yao Chen to donate to UNHCR's relief efforts and visit Ethiopia the following year. In April 2012, she traveled to Buramino, Aw Barre and Sheder camps where she spoke to Somali refugees about their struggle to survive through multiple displacements, and their belief in education as the key to their future.
Throughout her field trips with UNHCR, Yao Chen has actively used social media to share her experiences, observations and feelings. Known in China as the Queen of Weibo - the Chinese equivalent of Twitter - she reaches an audience of over 48 million followers with messages about refugees and UNHCR, and generates countless retweets and feedback.
Yao Chen has also spoken about refugees at public events such as the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, and supported World Refugee Day activities in Hong Kong. Working closely with the media, she has generated unprecedented coverage of refugees' humanitarian needs among audiences in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and many other parts of the Chinese-speaking world