LOS ANGELES – Small and subtle, the blue ribbons worn by many celebrities at the Oscars nonetheless had an important message: support refugees.
According to a statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, donning the #WithRefugees ribbons Sunday "sends a powerful visual message that everyone has the right to seek safety, whoever, wherever, whenever they are.”
The ribbons were made by Knotty Tie Co., which the agency says provides employment, training and education to refugees resettled in the Denver area.
“In many of the films nominated at festivals and awards ceremonies this season, the human themes of conflict, separation and loss are present,” the agency said in the statement, citing movies like “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.”
“Through effective storytelling, these films help erode discrimination and misunderstandings, offer new perspectives and help to build compassion for people forced to flee,” the statement continued.
The number of displaced people globally now tops 103 million, a figure augmented by significant factors like Russia's war in Ukraine, other conflicts around the world and climate change.
Best supporting actor Ke Huy Quan, born in Vietnam, referenced his own story of being a refugee during his acceptance speech.
“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp,” Quan said. “Somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This — THIS — is the American dream.”
Like other U.N. agencies, UNHCR has a long history of celebrity engagement — most famously, Angelina Jolie was the refugee agency's lone special envoy until parting ways last year.
Best actress nominee Cate Blanchett is a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR. But on Friday, U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric put in a plug for a goodwill ambassador from a different agency — the U.N. Development Programme. When asked whether he had a favorite for best picture, he demurred.
“No, but I do hope that the UNDP’s own goodwill ambassador Michelle Yeoh wins best actress, and we wish her all the best,” he said of the eventual winner.
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