UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett and actors (left to right ) Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kit Harington, and Douglas Booth rehearse for a filmed performance of a poem by Jenifer Toksvig called ‘What They Took With Them.’  Rich Hardcastle—UNHCR

Cate Blanchett and Kit Harington Made a Chilling Video Highlighting the Plight of Refugees

Sep 12, 2016

A pair of pants, a house key, children too young to walk. These are some of things that refugees have hurriedly picked up and carried when they fled their homes because of conflict or persecution.

A star-studded cast led by U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett reads out a poem listing the items — some vital to survival, others sentimental — in a new video produced by the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

Blanchett performs the chilling poem by Jenifer Toksvig, titled “What They Took With Them”, along with Game of Thrones star Kit Harington, Peter Capaldi, Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Douglas Booth, Jesse Eisenberg and Neil Gaiman.

What They Took With Them

Cate Blanchett performs the rhythmic poem ‘What They Took With Them’ alongside fellow actors Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kit Harington, Douglas Booth, Jesse Eisenberg and Neil Gaiman. The poem was written by Jenifer Toksvig and was inspired by stories and first-hand testimonies from refugees forced to flee their homes and items they took with them. One of the sources for the poem was Brian Sokol’s photography project, ‘The Most Important Thing,’ made in collaboration with UNHCR. Many of Brian's photos, along with firsthand accounts from the refugees he photographed, are featured in the film. Released exclusively on Facebook, the film urges people to sign the #WithRefugees petition to help ensure refugees have the basics to build back their lives – an education, somewhere safe to live and the opportunity to work. To see the full version of the film and to sign the petition go to www.withrefugees.org

Posted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency on Thursday, September 8, 2016

“Over 65 million people across the world have been forced to leave everything behind them — everything — and start their lives again from scratch,” Blanchett said in a press release.

“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.”

The video was launched on Facebook Monday to promote UNHCR’s #WithRefugees campaign, which includes a petition urging governments to act with solidarity and shared responsibility in meeting the needs of refugees worldwide.

The petition calls for government commitments to ensure that refugee children have access to education, that all refugees have a safe place to live and the ability to work and contribute to their communities.

See the Objects Refugees Carry on Their Journey to Europe

Kabir, 23, from Afghanistan; “My mother has been missing for one day. The men were separated from the women in Croatia and her phone is not working. I took this photo two months ago. I am hoping someone recognizes her. We all want to go to Germany.”James Mollison for TIME
Kabir, 23, from Afghanistan; “My mother has been missing for one day. The men were separated from the women in Croatia

James Mollison for TIME
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Almost one million people have already signed the petition, which will be presented to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 16, days before a U.N. summit on refugees and migrants.

More than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide, according to UNHCR. Of those, 21.3 million are refugees, who have fled their country of origin. More than half of them are under the age of 18. Some 10 million people are officially stateless, with no rights of citizenship.

UNHCR says that almost 34,000 people are displaced every day.

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