“I am a father of two. My immediate reaction upon seeing the photo of little Alan’s body lying limp on a Turkish beach - even before I considered the indelible place the picture was bound to hold in the sad lexicon of the Syrian war - was how unimaginably bludgeoning the loss was to his father. He had to endure seeing photos of his boy’s lifeless body lifted from the sand by a stranger, a person who did not know Alan’s voice or his laughter. How helpless he must have felt. I am not, thanks to random good fortune, one of the countless fathers in Syria to have buried a son or daughter. But I know a father’s feral need to protect his children, and writing Sea Prayer, I knew this was my truest entry point.
As the drownings in the Mediterranean Sea sadly continue, I hope that this Virtual Reality collaboration with The Guardian helps keep alive the memory of Alan Kurdi, and that it serves as reminder of the unfathomable desperation that forces families to risk all they have in search of hope and safety on another shore, across the waters. This is a choice that no one, and certainly not a father, makes lightly.
We all have an individual duty to let our friends, our families, our communities, our governments know we support refugees, that we want to see the expansion of safe, legal pathways for those in need of international protection, and when, if they should reach our own doorstep in search of safety and sanctuary that we welcome them. We can show solidarity #WithRefugees in so many different ways. Please take action today.”
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Afghan born American author Khaled Hosseini was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2006 and has demonstrated exceptional commitment to working on behalf of the millions of people around the work forced to flee their homes.
Khaled knows what it’s like to be a refugee. He was a teenager living in Paris, where his father worked as a diplomat, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 1979. His family ended up seeking asylum in the United States.
As a Goodwill Ambassador, Khaled has made several visits to see UNHCR's frontline work for refugees travelling to Afghanistan, Chad, Iraq, Jordan and Uganda. After one of his journeys back to Afghanistan, Khaled established The Khaled Hosseini Foundation which partners with UNHCR and raises funds to build homes for thousands of refugee returnees.
Previous support and field visits
In April 2017 Khaled travelled to Uganda to support UNHCR’s emergency appeal for South Sudan, and to understand more about Uganda’s progressive and pioneering approach to refugee protection. Uganda is currently hosting over one million South Sudanese refugees. The majority are women and children, including many unaccompanied children. More of Khaled's reflections on his visit to Uganda are available here.
Khaled supports major UNHCR campaign moments through filmed messages and via his social media platforms including World Refugee Day, the iBelong campaign to end statelessness, and the Nansen Refugee Award. He is equally committed to supporting UNHCR’s fundraising efforts with the general public and with private sector partners.