UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, marked Atom Araullo’s fourth year as National Goodwill Ambassador and announced the Philippines’ first ever Refugee Film Festival with the theme ‘Hope Away From Home’.
“We are grateful that Atom continues to lend his storytelling expertise to shine a light on the plight of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced, and those who are stateless and at risk of statelessness,” said UNHCR Philippines Head of National Office Maria Ermina Valdeavilla-Gallardo.
Atom began advocating for people forced to flee as a High-Profile Supporter in 2017 and was appointed UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2019. Joining UNHCR’s field missions and protection monitoring work for internally displaced persons in Mindanao, Atom has personally witnessed the strength and resilience of the most vulnerable communities in the face of multiple crises. He has also visited Azraq refugee camp in Jordan and Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, where he contributed to the efforts of drawing attention to the Syrian and Rohingya refugee crises, respectively.
Atom's work as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador has brought him to Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, where he met with Rohingya refugees and helped draw attention to their ongoing plight. © UNHCR/Joshua Paul
Atom has been instrumental in raising awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis and other emergencies, as well as enriching the positive sentiment of the Filipino public towards the refugee cause. © UNHCR/Veejay Villafranca
Following the widespread displacement caused by the Marawi siege, Atom has gone on multiple field missions with UNHCR in Mindanao, highlighting the critical humanitarian work being done on the ground. © UNHCR/Veejay Villafranca
“Thank you to UNHCR for this opportunity to continue advocating for the protection of the forcibly displaced. As Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR Philippines, I have had the honor and privilege of documenting and sharing to the world such important and compelling stories of survival and hope. As I mark my fourth year as Goodwill Ambassador, I hope that more Filipinos will become aware of these realities and stand in solidarity with people forced to flee,” said Atom.
As UNHCR Philippines marked Atom Araullo’s fourth year as Goodwill Ambassador, the lineup of activities to commemorate World Refugee Day this June was also announced. This includes the 1st Refugee Film Festival in the country with the theme ‘Hope Away From Home,’ wherein six films featuring the extraordinary stories of the forcibly displaced will be screened free of charge in partnership with the University of the Philippines Asian Center and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) from 20 to 22 June 2023 at the UPFI Film Center in UP Diliman.
As he continues with his fourth year as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Atom urges fellow Filipinos and the Philippine media to help raise awareness and foster inclusivity in all our communities, in solidarity with people forced to flee. © UNHCR/Jasmine Cruz
UNHCR Head of National Office Maria Ermina Valdeavilla-Gallardo expresses gratitude to Atom for his continued dedication and critical work of amplifying the voices of the forcibly displaced. © UNHCR/Jasmine Cruz
Opening the Film Festival is Quezon’s Game by Matthew Rosen, a biographical film set in 1938 that follows the story of Philippine President Manuel Quezon and several other notable figures as they set out to rescue Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. This humanitarian legacy of the Philippines opening its doors to refugees fleeing war and persecution began since the early 1920s and continues to this very day.
Other films in the Refugee Film Festival are Flee by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Wandering, A Rohingya Story by Mélanie Carrier and Olivier Higgins, Captains of Zaatari by Ali El Arabi, A House in Pieces by Jean Claire Dy and Manuel Domes, and The Swimmers by Sally El Hosaini.
Also present during the launch were representatives of the partner agencies of the UNHCR including State Counsel Alden Luna of the Department of Justice – Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit, UP Asian Center Dean Dr. Henelito Sevilla, Jr., and Executive Director Romeo Dongeto of Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD).
“The Refugee Film Festival serves as a good eye-opener to the current global refugee crises and the importance of fostering a climate of acceptance, compassion, and inclusion in the world. As a partner of UNHCR Philippines, we are committed to advancing the institutionalization of policies and laws that safeguard the rights of forcibly displaced and stateless people through legislation,” said Dongeto.
With the speed and scale of global forced displacement outpacing long-term solutions, there is a need to continue working together to advocate for inclusion and opportunities that will provide refugees with better chances of survival.
“Our hope is that the Refugee Film Festival will raise awareness among more Filipinos on the plight and rights of those forced to flee,” said Valdeavilla-Gallardo.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We lead international action to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. We deliver life-saving assistance, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place called home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. We work in over 130 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.
In the Philippines, UNHCR has maintained a presence for over 40 years, working on three pillars: providing durable solutions to refugees, ending and reducing statelessness, and empowering displaced families.
ABOUT UNHCR GOODWILL AMBASSADOR ATOM ARAULLO
Alfonso Tomas “Atom” Araullo, a renowned broadcast journalist in the Philippines, started his support for UNHCR in June 2017 and was officially named as National Goodwill Ambassador in February 2019. Atom has travelled to Azraq refugee camp in Jordan (2018), Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh (2017 and 2019), and to IDP communities in Mindanao, southern Philippines (2017, 2018, 2021, and 2022) in support of UNHCR’s advocacy, media, and fundraising work for people forced to flee.
ABOUT THE 1ST REFUGEE FILM FESTIVAL IN THE PHILIPPINES
To commemorate World Refugee Day 2023, UNHCR Philippines together with the University of the Philippines Asian Center and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) will be holding the 1st Refugee Film Festival in the Philippines, showcasing the stories of people forced to flee through films and documentaries from the Philippines and around the globe.
Aimed at bringing awareness, building empathy, and mobilizing action for and on behalf of the 103 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, admission to the 1st Refugee Film Festival is free of charge and will run from 20 to 22 June 2023 at the UPFI Film Center in the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Reserve your tickets through this link.
This Press Release is available for download here.
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External Relations Associate