“I am deeply touched by how refugees keep their dignity and how poverty does not destroy their kindness.
I want to let them know they are not alone, there are people who love them."
About Yao Chen
Yao Chen was appointed as a UNHCR National Goodwill Ambassador in 2013 – the first in China – in recognition of her long-standing advocacy for the globally displaced. In June 2017 she met the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi in Beijing to mark the extension of her role and ongoing commitment to the refugee cause.
Yao Chen has worked with UNHCR since 2010, when she visited urban refugees in and around the Philippines capital Manila. She was deeply affected by the experiences of the Somali, Sudanese and Palestinian refugees she met – ordinary people forced to flee their homes by extraordinary circumstances.
Following this first field visit with UNHCR Yao Chen has witnessed our frontline work and learnt about the experiences of refugees from numerous other countries.
In 2011, she travelled to Mae La camp in western Thailand, her first visit to a refugee camp. In 2012, she traveled to Buramino, Aw Barre and Sheder camps in Ethiopia where she talked with Somali refugees about their struggle to survive through multiple displacements, and their belief in education as the key to their future.
Yao Chen has shared these experiences, and subsequent field visits to Lebanon and Pakistan, through the media and Weibo. With a social media following of more than 80 million, she has brought a new understanding of refugee issues to the Chinese-speaking world.