'Now is not the time to turn our backs on Syrian refugees'
British Actor David Morrissey announced as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador following trip to Lebanon
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is delighted to announce the appointment of internationally acclaimed British actor David Morrissey as a Goodwill Ambassador. The announcement comes after more than three years of support from the actor for UNHCR.
Star of The Missing and The Walking Dead, David Morrissey has just returned from a trip with UNHCR to Lebanon, the country hosting the highest number of Syrian refugees per capita in the world. During his trip, he took part in drama workshops for young Syrians and Lebanese and met with refugee families due to be resettled to the UK.
Morrissey said: “The Syrians I’ve met want nothing more than to return home. But most don’t have anything to go back to. Their homes and entire villages have been destroyed.
Most of the refugees I’ve met are living in real hardship: in abandoned shopping malls, in derelict buildings or under canvas. I’ve met parents whose children are working during the night in whatever job they can find so the families can afford to buy food and medicine.
Many people fled to Lebanon thinking they would be here only a month or two, but Syria has now been at war for six years. They can’t carry on living like this.
That’s why it’s so important for the international community to show solidarity with Lebanon, and for countries like the UK to offer resettlement to the most vulnerable refugees.
I met two families with young children who are being resettled to London next week. They’re both really happy that they can restart their lives somewhere safe, where the children can go to school. They’re very keen to learn English, to work, to get to know their new neighbours and to integrate.
The families I met don’t have to risk their children’s lives crossing the Mediterranean, because they have a safe legal route to come through resettlement. And that’s thanks to the generosity and support of people and local authorities in the UK.
So people can make a difference to the lives of Syrian refugees, by telling their MPs and local councillors that they want to welcome refugees where they live.
Now is not the time to turn our backs on Syrian refugees. It’s not the time to put up barriers to those who need protection.”
"Now is not the time to turn our backs on Syrian refugees. It’s not the time to put up barriers to those who need protection.”
The announcement of David Morrissey as a Goodwill Ambassador comes after more than three years of support from the actor for UNHCR. He has travelled with the organisation to meet refugees living in Jordan and in Greece. He has also supported a number of fundraising initiatives, and in September last year addressed the Refugees Welcome rally in Parliament Square.
“Goodwill Ambassadors play a vital role in creating better public understanding and support for refugees,” says UNHCR’s Representative to the UK Gonzalo Vargas Llosa. “David has been a strong advocate of UNHCR and the refugee cause over a number of years and we’re delighted that he’s joining us as a Goodwill Ambassador.”
"David has been a strong advocate of UNHCR and the refugee cause over a number of years and we’re delighted that he’s joining us as a Goodwill Ambassador.”
Lebanon is a country hosting more than a million refugees – that’s 20% of the population. Approximately 80% of the refugees registered with UNHCR are women and children and 59% are under the age of 18. Around 70% of refugee households currently live below the national poverty line of less than $3.84 per person per day, and more than half live in extreme poverty at less than $2.9 per person per day.
Over half of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in substandard shelters, such as unfinished buildings, garages, tents and animal sheds. UNHCR provides monthly cash assistance to families most in need, helps with medical costs, community support services for some of the most isolated including older people and the LGBTI community, provides winter payments to help refugees cover additional needs such as fuel and blankets during the colder months, legal advice and resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees. Only 9% of UNHCR’s budget requirements for the Syria crisis in Lebanon has been met so far for 2017.