Celebrities are taking a public stance to support the #WithRefugees campaign.
On Monday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a video featuring several actors including Cate Blanchett, Keira Knightley, Kit Harington and Jesse Eisenberg, performing a powerful spoken word poem entitled, “What They Took With Them.”
The video, posted on Facebook, aims to call attention to the more than 65 million refugees across the world who were forced to leave their lives behind due to violence.
According to UNHCR, the poem written by Jenifer Toksvig, which captures the tragic journey endured by displaced refugees, was “inspired by stories and first-hand testimonies from refugees forced to flee their homes and the items they took with them.”
Blanchett, the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, along with actors Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kit Harington, Douglas Booth, Jesse Eisenberg and writer Neil Gaiman, gathered together to read the moving piece of poetry, which was recorded and spliced together with compelling images and text.
As explained on the UNHCR website, Blanchett immediately thought Toksvig’s words carried such an extreme weight to them. “As soon as I read Jenifer Toksvigs poem, and even more so after I took part in an early performance of it, I was struck by its immense power,” she said. “The rhythm and words of the poem echo the frenzy and chaos and terror of suddenly being forced to leave your home, grabbing what little you can carry with you, and fleeing for safety.”
Refugee images and accounts from photographer Brian Sokol’s project entitled, “The Most Important Thing,” which was made in collaboration with UNHCR, accompany the celebrity voiceovers.
“… As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, I believe the very least each of us can do is work together to ensure refugees have the basics with which to build back their lives an education, somewhere safe to live, the ability to work,” Blanchett added.
The film was made to inspire viewers to sign the #WithRefugees petition, which will help ensure refugees are given basic essentials needed to rebuild their lives, such as education, shelter and employment. The petition is set to be delivered to UN headquarters ahead of the UN General Assembly high-level summit on Sept.19.
As of Monday afternoon, 937,433 people have signed the petition.