At UNHCR's Voluntary Repatriation Centre in Nowshera, near Peshawar, Pakistan, the High Commissioner for Refugees and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Mahira Khan, observes as Afghan refugees go through a process for their voluntary return to Afghanistan.
© UNHCR / A. Shahzad

About Mahira

Renowned television and film actress Mahira Khan was appointed National Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in November 2019.

Mahira skilfully leverages her influence to support social causes. In 2018, Mahira began working with UNHCR to advocate for the plight of 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. She has participated in field missions, visiting UNHCR’s Voluntary Repatriation Centre in Nowshera and a refugee settlement in Karachi. She has also accompanied the High Commissioner during one such visit.

During Mahira’s field missions, she was moved by the stories of resilience and hope of returning refugee families, school-aged refugee children and refugees learning livelihood skills. In particular, she noted that refugee children have aspirations and emphasized the vital role of education in their lives. She later noted that she “didn’t choose this cause, this cause chose [her]”, and called for collective efforts to find solutions for refugees in Pakistan.

Mahira continues to mobilize audiences of all ages with her wit and wisdom, speaking on many platforms. These include the Global Teacher’s Prize Ceremony hosted by the Varkey Foundation in Dubai, the Aga Khan University Special Lecture Series in Karachi and TEDxLahore. She also supported UNHCR’s Everyone Counts Campaign.

In February 2020, Mahira Khan participated as a panellist in the Refugee Summit Islamabad, which marked forty years of Afghan refugee situation in Pakistan. During her remarks, she noted how it was an honour to “share the stage with refugees”.