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Yao Chen

Pakistan. National Goodwill Ambassador of UNHCR Yao Chen with the students of Khadozai boy school, Mianwali National Goodwill Ambassador of UNHCR Yao Chen inaugurates the new classroom of Khadozai boy school, Mianwali. The students welcome Yao Chen.

“I am deeply touched by how refugees keep their dignity and how poverty does not destroy their kindness. I want to let them know they are not alone, there are people who love them."

About Yao Chen

Yao Chen is a Chinese actress and philanthropist, who has starred in countless national and international films and TV shows. She has featured on Time Magazine’s “Time 100” list of most influential people in the world, and on Forbes’ list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women”.

Support and field visits

In 2010, Yao Chen visited urban refugees in and around the Philippines capital Manila. She was deeply affected by the experiences of the Somali, Sudanese and Palestinian refugees she met – ordinary people forced to flee their homes by extraordinary circumstances. Following this first field visit with UNHCR Yao Chen has witnessed our frontline work and learnt about the experiences of refugees from numerous other countries.

In 2011, she travelled to Mae La camp in western Thailand, her first visit to a refugee camp. In 2012, she traveled to Buramino, Aw Barre and Sheder camps in Ethiopia where she talked with Somali refugees about their struggle to survive through multiple displacements, and their belief in education as the key to their future. She has provided crucial support to help refugee girls attend school.

Yao Chen has shared these experiences, and subsequent field visits to Lebanon and Pakistan, through the media and Weibo. With a social media following of more than 80 million, she has brought a new understanding of refugee issues to the Chinese-speaking world.

In June 2017 she met the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi in Beijing to mark her commitment to the refugee cause.

In 2019 Yao helped to promote the Chinese version of fellow GWA Khaled Hosseini’s book, Sea Prayer. Yao has stated ‘Every one of us is a beam of light that can dissipate a small piece of darkness. Together, we can light up the hope and future of many refugees’.