Lisa Knauer

In 2015, sisters and competitive swimmers Yusra and Sara Mardini fled Syria because of conflict. During the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, their dinghy’s engine failed. The sisters were among those who jumped into the water to guide the overcrowded boat to safety, saving the lives of all on board.

After seeking asylum in Germany, Yusra began swimming again and was selected for the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. Now a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, she shares her story with audiences around the world to demonstrate the determination of refugees to achieve their dreams despite facing trauma, hardship, and loss.

Sara returned to Greece to volunteer with a search-and-rescue NGO. There, she was one of 24 aid workers arrested on charges that were widely criticized by human-rights groups and have since been dismissed on procedural grounds. An ongoing investigation shines a global spotlight on the hostility and risks that rescuers can face.

The Swimmers, a 2022 movie inspired by the sisters’ powerful story, brought to a mass audience the human reality of what it means to be displaced. That story continues as both Yusra and Sara fiercely advocate for everyone’s right to seek safety. Whoever. Wherever. Whenever.

Blanchett is an Oscar-winning actor and a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

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