Australian actor and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett said this year’s World Refugee Day offers a chance to reflect on the uncertainty faced by those forced to flee their homes, as the world faces the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blanchett, the goodwill ambassador for UNHCR, said the annual June 20 event came during a time of “challenge and reflection”.
In an interview, Blanchett told Reuters: “We’ve been forced to confront what uncertainty feels like and of course that is the situation that the majority of refugees live with, year in, year out.”
“There’s a kind of an opportunity … to think about how we have dealt with uncertainty and perhaps place ourselves in the shoes of mothers and fathers and doctors and lawyers who have been, through no fault of their own, displaced and have been living with, for often for upwards of 18, 19 years, in that state that we have been dealing with for 18 months.”
World Refugee Day honors those who have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution or conflict. This year’s theme calls for greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, sport and education.
Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, said in the joint interview: “Sadly, even in COVID, conflicts have continued around the world.”
“What we’re trying to talk about … is to support the host countries to enable people to be included in access to education, children to school, family members to work, but of course, most particularly in this time of COVID, access to health and to vaccines,” Triggs added.
In her UNHCR role, actor Blanchett has traveled to Jordan, Lebanon and Bangladesh, and has addressed the U.N. Security Council on the Rohingya refugee crisis.