"I am using my story and the support from those who lend me an ear to help spread awareness about the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Sharing my story is cathartic. It helps me to rise above painful memories and contemplate how those experiences can be utilized to create good. It took many years for me to dare face the demons of my childhood. It meant reliving memories of war, commotion, famine and of seeing many of my friends and family members die."
Sudanese-born actor and model Ger Duany was appointed a UNHCR Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the East and Horn of Africa in June 2015. As one of thousands of former Sudanese 'lost boys' and someone who was helped directly by UNHCR, he is well-qualified to raise awareness and understanding about the challenges facing millions of forcibly displaced people around the world.
Born in the town of Akobo in what is now South Sudan, Ger was caught up in Sudan's north-south civil war. He became separated from his family and was forcefully recruited as a child soldier, like thousands of other boys during the 1983-2005 conflict. At the age of 14, he managed to escape to neighbouring Ethiopia and was eventually resettled to the United States from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. At the time, he could neither read nor write in English, but ended up completing a college education in his new homeland.
In his role as a Goodwill Ambassador, Ger has elected to focus on youth and education, saying “given a chance, refugee kids excel. They are not powerless, they don't need pity. They can be citizens of any country, respectfully and constructively contributing to humanity’s goals.”
In 2014, UNHCR helped Ger reunite with his mother and other family members in Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp. He has written extensively about his childhood and reunion with his family in various blog posts.
Recent support and field visits
Ger has advocated for the refugee cause through field visits to refugee camps, high level meetings, public events and online initiatives.
In June 2016 Ger visited refugees in Uganda - with a focus on learning about initiatives for young refugees - and reflected on his experiences in his UNHCR blog for World Refugee Day.
Later in the year Ger attended the Refugee Congress in Capitol Hill, Washington DC, sharing insights from his experiences as a refugee, before joining the UNHCR High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges in December the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Over the course of 2015, Ger spoke on behalf of UNHCR at numerous events across the world, including the Social Good Summit in New York, the Tokyo Film Festival, UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Awards, TEDXPlaceDesNations and at the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement in Geneva. He has also met with high-level diplomats and government officials in several countries to advocate on behalf of refugees.
Related news and stories
Hollywood actor and model Ger Duany is honoured to be recognized as a supporter of the refugee cause.