In a nod to her untiring support for refugees, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today renewed Chinese actress Yao Chen's tenure as UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador for an additional two years.

Filippo Grande presents a certificate of renewal to UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yao Chen
Filippo Grande presents a certificate of renewal to UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yao Chen
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Grandi met Yao Chen on Wednesday as part of his inaugural visit to China to explore how Beijing can play a greater role in addressing global displacement through approaches such as South-South Cooperation and the “One Belt One Road” initiative.

Appointed as UNHCR’s Goodwill Ambassador in June 2013, Yao Chen was honoured at the Crystal Awards in Davos last year for her work to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis on behalf of UNHCR. With 80 million followers on Weibo – the Chinese equivalent of Twitter – she has ranked among Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women and Time’s 30 Most Influential People.

“Thanks to Yao Chen, refugees have entered the consciousness of millions of Chinese people,” said Grandi. “Her unique voice has helped them to look beyond the numbers and see refugees as real people seeking to find some normalcy when their lives have fallen apart.”

During her time with UNHCR, Yao Chen has met refugees in some of the world’s largest host countries, including Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Somali refugees in Ethiopia and Myanmar refugees in Thailand.

“Refugees can often feel like a distant issue, far removed from our daily lives,” said Yao Chen. “But their plight is a symptom of the world we live in. In this global village, we are all connected and inter-dependent in one way or another.”

She added that she will continue to work closely with UNHCR to bring the public’s attention to both refugee emergencies and protracted situations of displacement.

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