UNITED NATIONS – The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday appointed Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee who saved lives of 20 other refugees, as its new Goodwill Ambassador, UN officials said, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
Mardini, together with her sister, swam for three hours to pull a capsizing boat of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea off Turkey’s coast and saved the lives of 20 refugees who were fleeing the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2015, said the officials.
The 19-year-old girl was also one of the 10 athletes who made up the historic Olympic Refugee Team and participated at the Rio Olympic Games last year.
“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 as the youngest Goodwill Ambassador working for UNHCR.
“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,” she said.
Since her participation at the Rio Olympics, Mardini has worked closely with the UN agency, drawing global attention to the plight of refugees, speaking at forums including the 2016 UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants and the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos.
She has also advocated for the refugee cause during meetings with global leaders, influential business figures.
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 of Tokyo in 2020.
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors are some of the most recognisable public faces of the UN agency.
They help take its work to every corner of the world through their influence, dedication and hard work.