ISLAMABAD—United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, announced on Wednesday the appointment of Pakistani actress Mahira Khan as UNHCR National Goodwill Ambassador.
Prior to this appointment, Mahira had been supporting UNHCR’s activities for the last few years and has remained a strong voice for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
“I feel privileged to have been chosen to serve this noble cause,” said Ms. Khan at the appointment ceremony, which was held here in Islamabad.
The Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Shehryar Khan Afridi, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo, UNHCR’s Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific,Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan, Ms. Ruvendrini Menikdiwela and other distinguished guests attended the ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Khan said that Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for four decades. “I feel proud that my country is one of the most generous countries of the world,” she said. “By becoming UNHCR National Goodwill Ambassador, I wish to stand behind such incredible acts of hospitality and humanity,” Ms Khan added.
She said that majority of refugees are being hosted by the developing countries and a sense of shared responsibility has yet to be achieved. “More needs to be done to support countries and communities which host refugees,” she added.
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations commended the newly appointed National Goodwill Ambassador for supporting UNHCR’s activities and for continuing to demonstrate her personal commitment towards refugees.
“I am delighted to see renowned Pakistani opinion movers coming forward in support of the refugee cause, making their voices heard locally, nationally and globally, and having a very strong influence on youth,” he said.
He noted that high-profile supporters, such as Ms. Khan, can serve as a symbol of partnership between the people of Pakistan and the international community. Okoth-Obbo also underscored that UNHCR very much looks forward to working with Ms. Khan to help reinvigorate support for refugees.
On the occasion, an Afghan refugee woman presented the Goodwill Ambassador with a shawl. The handmade shawl made by women in Pakistan, including refugees, was a gift from the designer and philanthropist Rizwan Beyg, also a high-profile supporter of UNHCR in Pakistan.