“We must not look away. We cannot let Syrian families go deeper into destitution and cannot let their children be part of a lost generation. We need to ensure that these families can live in dignity and look to the future with hope. We need to ensure that these kids—like my kids and your kids—can have a childhood and achieve their dreams.”
Actor Ben Stiller has been supporting UNHCR since early 2016. Over the years, he has travelled with us to meet refugees in Germany, Jordan, Guatemala and Lebanon, has supported multiple projects and campaigns and tirelessly uses his voice in media and social media to advocate for the rights of refugees. Ben was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador in July 2018.
Ben has a special interest in the Syrian refugee crisis and, to date, has travelled to meet Syrian refugees 3 times. In 2019, he visited Lebanon just before the 8th anniversary of the Syrian conflict. He met refugee families struggling to survive and was particularly struck by an 8 year old who was selling vegetables on the street to help support his family. Upon returning from Lebanon, Ben called for urgent support for the millions of Syrian refugees living on “a knife’s edge” and raised awareness about their plight. He spent the remainder of 2019 advocating for support for Syrian refugees and helping to raise funds. He travelled to Washington, DC and testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee imploring the US government to “not look away” and to continue providing vital and much needed support. He also filmed a series of fundraising videos supporting UNHCR’s Winterization Appeal. In one month Ben’s content raised over 500,000 USD and was matched for a total of 1 million USD.
In addition to field travel, Ben has played a key role in UNHCR projects and campaigns. In early 2020, he travelled to Albany, New York where he participated in a press conference at the State Capitol advocating for support of resettled refugees in New York. Most recently, he participated in the High Commissioner’s handwashing challenge, encouraging everyone to remember the extreme vulnerability of refugees in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. In 2019, he supported the launch of #EveryoneCounts by filming a conversation with former refugee, super model and fellow UNHCR supporter Adut Akech. In 2018, he narrated UNHCR’s 1 Billion Miles to Safety Campaign promo video, and to mark World Refugee Day that same year, he appeared in a special edition Buzzfeed Tasty film, alongside writer and former Iraqi refugee Ahmed Badr. In support of our #WithRefugees campaign, Ben participated in an advocacy film encouraging the global public to stand in solidarity with refugees, and he spoke at UNHCR’s event in the UN General Assembly Hall ahead of the historic UN Summit on Refugees & Migrants in September 2016. He has also attended numerous other fundraising, advocacy and media events.
Recent support and field visits