Mexican polyglot journalist, writer and sports commentator Alberto Lati has been a supporter of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, since 2015. As a curious coincidence, Alberto was born on June 20, World Refugee Day: the moment the world comes together to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees globally. Lati was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador in July 2021, days before the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Alberto has used his talents to help amplify many important moments for refugees. During the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he helped spotlight the first ever Olympic Refugee Team through interviews with two of its members: Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini and South Sudanese track and field athlete Yiech Pur Biel. In 2021, he interviewed the Ethiopian marathon runner Yonas Kinde, and he was one of the selected journalists that participated in the press conference prior to the announcement of the soccer player Alphonso Davies as Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. Alberto also interviewed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, during a visit to Mexico in 2017, and helped to promote solidarity with refugees via his coverage of the 2018 World Cup.
Various UNHCR campaigns have benefitted from Alberto's involvement. In 2017, he recorded a video for Children on the Run, asking the public to help the children, adolescents and families who have been forced to flee their homes in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala due to gang violence. For UNHCR's #WithRefugees campaign, Alberto was featured in an advocacy film alongside fellow High Profile Supporters, refugees and UNHCR field staff, encouraging the public to sign a petition expressing solidarity with millions of people across the world driven from their homes by conflict and persecution. In 2019, Alberto participated in our World Refugee Day challenge on Twitter, Why do people flee their homes? helping the campaign reach a wider audience in the Americas.
His mentions about refugees and forcibly displaced people around the world in his books should be emphasised. In February 2020, Alberto published the book 100 dioses del Olimpo (100 Olympian gods), which gathered the stories of 100 Olympic athletes, including refugees. He gave special mention to refugees, and recorded a piece speaking about his work for UNHCR. During the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, Alberto published another book, 20 Pelotazos de Esperanza en tiempos de crisis (20 blows with a ball in times of crisis), which shares 20 historical moments in sport that brought peace to in times of war. Sports have been the homeland for refugee athletes displaced from their homes, and Alberto's book revisits crucial moments in which sport was the only hope. Alberto also assisted UNHCR’s COVID-19 online campaign through his social media channels.
For World Refugee Day 2020, Alberto participated in a Spanish word challenge with colleagues from Honduras and El Salvador. They presented popular words in Spanish from their native countries, and challenged Alberto to work out their meaning. The challenge showed how refugees contribute in many ways to their host communities, including with their culture and language.
“I am very honoured today to be appointed as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Sport can make a positive difference in the lives of people who have been forced to flee their homes and sport will be one of the tools I use to promote refugee rights,” Lati said. “My commitment is with all refugees worldwide, because together we can shine without leaving anyone behind.”
For his first project, Alberto travelled with UNHCR to the Mexican border city of Tapachula, where he had the opportunity to observe the Suchiate River, a site of crossing for hundreds of Central American refugees fleeing gang violence and organized crime every day.
In 2021, he met with refugee families in Saltillo and Monterrey, two cities in the north of Mexico, where people are relocated and integrated to a new life with support from UNHCR. With his special interest in sports as a tool for peaceful coexistence, he had an informal talk with local sports journalists and soccer clubs to raise awareness on inclusion and zero tolerance to discrimination.