The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday appointed Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini as its youngest Goodwill Ambassador.
Mardini is a refugee who together with her sister swam for three hours in the Mediterranean Sea off Turkey’s coast, pulling a capsizing boat of refugees to safety. Her actions saved the lives of 20 refugees who were fleeing the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Yusra, 17, was one of the 10 athletes who made up the historic Olympic Refugee Team and participated at the Rio Olympic Games last year. She has been a very powerful voice for the forcibly displaced across the world and an example of their resilience and determination to rebuild lives and positively contribute to host communities.
“The UN refugee agency does the most important and incredible work for refugees under extremely challenging circumstances, and I am proud to use my voice to support UNHCR,” said Mardini, accepting her new role.
“I am thrilled to join the UNHCR family and eager to continue spreading the message that refugees are just normal people living through traumatic and devastating circumstances, who are capable of extraordinary things if only given a chance.”
Since her participation in the Rio Olympics, Mardini has worked closely with the UN agency, drawing global attention to the plight of refugees and speaking at forums including the 2016 UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants and the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos.
Mardini is currently a full time student in Germany and continues to train in the hope of competing at the next Olympic Games in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, in 2020. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)