“In many of my films I fight against discrimination and raise awareness about poverty and social problems - issues that need to be addressed but which are often not discussed easily. I asked myself how I could add more to the discussion, and with UNHCR I have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to humanity, to reach out and help people who are desperate and in need.”
Egyptian actor Adel Imam was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2000 to raise public awareness about refugees in Arabic-speaking countries.
In the course of his rich career, Adel has mixed humour with sadness to portray ordinary people who are victims of injustice and poverty. Through playing roles that advocate for minority rights, side with the poor and vulnerable, and denounce fanaticism and extremism, he has become a symbol of tolerance and human rights in the Arab world.
As well as travelling to the United Nations in New York several times as part of a UNHCR delegation to attend meetings at the invitation of the Secretary General, Adel has travelled to the field with UNHCR, including in Yemen in 2000. There, Adel spent time with refugees living in Kharaz camp and met with the President to help advocate for the creation of a road from Kharaz to the capital to help facilitate the movement of refugees. In 2007, Adel visited Syria to meet with refugees from Iraq and spoke with the Syrian authorities about improving conditions for refugees, as well as expediting the entry process for a number of Iraqi children stuck on the border.
He also travelled to Jordan, Tunisia, Oman, Syria, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, where he seized all opportunities to raise awareness about refugees and to brief the media on UNHCR activities. In his own words, Imam expressed his solidarity with refugees, speaking to a wide public in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf region.
In 2017, Imam was a keynote speaker at the World Refugee Day Celebration held by UNHCR at the Zamalek Cinema in Egypt. Addressing the audience, Imam said, “we should not stand still and watch the tragedies escalate, we should all extend our hands to the refugees everywhere.”