Ethiopian singer Betty G named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

At an appointment ceremony in Addis Ababa, the award winning singer said she was "humbled and honoured" to serve refugees.

Ethiopia. Betty G named GWA

Newly appointed Goodwill Ambassador, Betty G, at the Global Refugee Forum regional conference held in December 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.   © UNHCR/Helle Degn

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Award winning singer Betty G, one of Africa’s fast rising music stars, today became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

The announcement elevates Betty G from her previous role as a UNHCR High Profile Supporter. 

“I'm humbled and honoured to have been selected to serve refugees who are among the world’s most vulnerable people. I’m fully committed to this noble cause,” said Betty G at the ceremony, held today in Ethiopia’s capital. 

Born Bruktwait Getahun, Betty G rose to stardom in 2015 following the release of her debut album Manew Fitsumwhich earned her a huge following. She gained fame across Africa following her appearances in the popular television show, Cokework Studio Africa and her subsequent nomination in 2018 for six AFRIMAs (All Africa Music Awards), winning three of them.  

“I'm humbled and honoured to have been selected to serve refugees... I’m fully committed to this noble cause.”

She became a High Profile Supporter for UNHCR in 2017 and has since then visited a number of refugee camps in Ethiopia hosting South Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali refugees. 

 

In her media interviews, she has often called upon the international community to support Ethiopia which hosts nearly 750,000 refugees.

Betty G performed at the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo, using the occasion to promote her ongoing engagement with UNHCR through her social media platforms.

Ann Encontre, UNHCR’s Representative in Ethiopia, congratulated Betty G and commended her for her personal commitment and the important contributions she has already made to the refugee cause over the last couple of years.

“Betty G’s announcement as a Goodwill Ambassador comes at an opportune moment when the world has shown renewed commitment to support generous hosts like Ethiopia to help refugees and the communities that host them,” she said.

Encontre added that Betty G’s advocacy and fundraising work has inspired others to support UNHCR’s work. 

“We look forward to working with her,” she added.

  • Betty G speaks with refugee students she met at the College of Teacher Education in Melkadida, Ethiopia.
    Betty G speaks with refugee students she met at the College of Teacher Education in Melkadida, Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Ariadne Kypriadi
  • Newly appointed Goodwill Ambassador Betty G, speaks with Somali refugee Hibo Abdi in Melkadida, Ethiopia.
    Newly appointed Goodwill Ambassador Betty G, speaks with Somali refugee Hibo Abdi in Melkadida, Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Ariadne Kypriadi
  • Betty G watches as an Eritrean refugee shows her how to make traditional mats in Aysaita camp in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
    Betty G watches as an Eritrean refugee shows her how to make traditional mats in Aysaita camp in the Afar region of Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Helle Degn

Betty G commended the Ethiopian people and Government for hosting a large number of refugees for a long period of time. 

“I’m proud of be a citizen of a country that is willing to always keep its borders open for those in need,” she said. “By becoming a Goodwill Ambassador, I wish to stand behind such incredible acts of hospitality and humanity.” 

In 2019, Ethiopia updated it existing national Refugee Proclamation, making it one of the most progressive in Africa. The new law grants more rights to refugees and asylum-seekers, including the right to work and live outside of camps.

Betty G has witnessed how inclusion of refugees into Ethiopian host communities can benefit both parties.  

In May 2019, she visited Melkadida in the Somali Region where, through the support of the IKEA Foundation, refugees and their Ethiopian hosts live and work together under innovative business schemes that economicallybenefit both communities and strengthens the bond between them. 

She recalled her meeting with a Somali refugee, Musa Yussuf Burey, who hires both refugees and Ethiopians at hisfurniture shop in Melkadida.

“Musa’s business is doing so well that he no longer depends on humanitarian aid,” said Betty G at the time. “By hiring Ethiopians and supplying the local market with furniture, he is positively contributing to the local economy.”

She added that his story challenges the perception that refugees are a burden to their hosts.

She has been a strong advocate of this new, comprehensive approach to refugee situations and has called for more international support to help Ethiopia help refugees and the communities in the different refugee hosting regions.

“I have seen it with my own eyes. Refugee inclusion can bring benefits to both refugees and their hosts but more investments are needed in these regions,” she said.

Betty G’s father died while she was young and she was raised by a single mother. The experience inspired her to become a fierce advocate for women empowerment and equal rights.

“I am so proud of my mother, who despite working fulltime, managed to take care of us and ensured we had an education. She is my inspiration and a role model,” she said.

In the Afar Region, Betty G met with women who organized themselves in self-help groups and had small businesses. 

“I was amazed by these women who had been through a lot but still found the courage and strength to learn new skills and find new ways to make a living and help their families have a better future,” she added.

“I will continue to help raise the voices of refugees, particularly women, in Ethiopia and beyond.”

“When women and girls are provided with opportunities, the whole family benefits,” added Betty G who believes that the empowerment of women is vital. 

As a Goodwill Ambassador, Betty G will continue to advocate for support for Ethiopia, which is one of the largest refugee hosting countries in Africa.

“I will continue to help raise the voices of refugees, particularly women, in Ethiopia and beyond,” she said.