Anita has worked passionately to highlight the plight of the forcibly displaced, having supported the organisation since 2017.
“The plight of refugees is really close to my heart,” Anita said. “People everywhere are reeling from the pandemic, but imagine facing COVID when you’ve been forcibly displaced and don’t have a place to call home. Conditions for refugees are deteriorating and their numbers are rising; globally, there are over 80 million people displaced by conflict and persecution. I’m humbled to be able to do whatever I can to make sure they are not forgotten.”
Anita’s previous work with UNHCR included travelling to Kyrgyzstan in 2019 to meet the laureate for the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Azizbek Ashurov, a lawyer, whose work supported the efforts of the Kyrgyz Republic in becoming the first country in the world to end statelessness. Anita hosted the subsequent international award ceremony in Geneva.
Anita has also hosted the UNHCR-supported ‘Women on the Move’ Awards in the UK and has backed the Families Together campaign to push for immigration rule changes to allow more refugee families in the UK to reunite.
Anita has also explored the human impact of displacement through TV documentaries like ‘My Family, Partition and Me,’ which told the story of the division of India and Pakistan through profiles of four families, including her own, and the BBC series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Anita also explored what life is like for refugees in ‘The Refugee Camp: Our Desert Home’ and continues to champion refugee stories on ‘CountryFile.’
“My own story is definitely one of migration,” Anita said. “I’m British, but I’m Indian-Punjabi and my family were directly impacted by the division of India and Pakistan.”
She hopes to continue shining a light on related issues through her media projects going forwards, including as host of Women’s Hour, on BBC Radio 4.
“It’s timely that on International Women’s Day we warmly welcome Anita to the UNHCR family,” said Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UNHCR UK’s Representative. “Anita is a compassionate advocate for women and girls, who are so often the most marginalized among refugees. I am delighted that she has chosen to join our efforts to shine a light on their situation.”
“The pandemic has wreaked havoc on families already struggling to survive and refugees are more fragile than ever,” she added. “We need to hear their stories, and act to help.”