“Refugee stories are different – different continents, languages, religions, cultures. But one thing they have in common is the joy to live in a country free from conflict. A place to raise children and dream of safer future. We can’t feel what refugees feel, but we can make their stories heard. Understanding and compassion can be a real lifesaver.”
Iskui Abalyan is an honoured artist of Belarus, she is of Armenian origin and was born in Kyrgyzstan and raised in the Russian Federation before finally settling in Belarus. Iskui knows first-hand what it’s like to be displaced. She has a family history of forced migration, first in response to the long-term ethnic conflict in the Southern Caucasus and more recently as a result of the insecurity and violence in Ukraine.
Over the course of six years as National Good Will Ambassador, Iskui Abalyan has supported the UNHCR efforts in advocating for the refugee cause and eliminating statelessness. She is actively engaged in raising awareness activities through various channels, fundraising and assistance to vulnerable children and youth. Through her exposure and recognition in the country and the region, she brings her personal experience to champion the message of tolerance and inclusion of refugees and stateless persons in the Belarusian society.
In 2016, Iskui Abalyan joined the global campaign #WithRefugees calling on the world leaders to act in solidarity and take shared responsibility in their response to the global refugee crisis, and encouraging her friends, family and fans to sign the petition in support. Every year, Iskui Abalyan meets with refugee families and children in Belarus, providing comfort and assistance to most vulnerable ones.
Iskui supports the global UNHCR campaign #IBelong, and together with UNHCR Representation in Belarus engages in targeted advocacy and lobbying for the elimination of statelessness, including the accession of Belarus to the 1951 and 1964 UN Conventions on Statelessness.
In 2019, Iskui Abalyan joined UNHCR and partners in advocating against gender-based violence, especially towards refugees and asylum-seekers. She spoke at the opening of the Crisis Room in the Belarusian city of Hrodna opened with the support of UNHCR and financial contributions from the US Embassy in Minsk. On behalf of UNHCR she also joined #16DaysofActivism to speak up against domestic violence,