ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Actress Mahira Khan, famed in South Asia for her roles both in Bollywood and cinema and television in her native Pakistan, today became a National Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
"I feel privileged to have been chosen to serve this noble cause," said Khan at the appointment ceremony, which was held on Wednesday in Islamabad.
Khan gained international fame and a huge following for her roles in the films Raees and Superstar, as well as numerous roles in television.
Prior to this appointment, she visited with Afghan refugees in Peshawar last year as part of a high-profile UN delegation. She has also spoken up for the needs of more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan in media interviews.
At the ceremony, Khan paid tribute to Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees, who were first uprooted by conflict 40 years ago.
"I feel proud that my country has shown such generosity towards three generations of Afghan refugees," she said. "By becoming UNHCR National Goodwill Ambassador, I wish to stand behind such incredible acts of hospitality and humanity," she added.
When reflecting on her interactions with refugees, she described how young and old alike defied all odds and remained hopeful.
"When I look into the eyes of refugees across our country, I see an incredibly strong people filled with hopes and dreams," she said. "Like you or me, there is nothing that a refugee can't do."
Khan said that a majority of refugees are being hosted by developing countries, and a sense of shared responsibility has yet to be achieved. "More needs to be done to support countries and communities which host large numbers of refugees," she said.
UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo, who was present at the ceremony, commended the newly appointed National Goodwill Ambassador for supporting UNHCR's activities and for continuing to demonstrate her personal commitment towards refugees.
"I am delighted to see renowned Pakistani opinion movers coming forward in support of the refugee cause, making their voices heard locally, nationally and globally, and having a very strong influence on youth," he said.
He noted that high-profile supporters, such as Khan, can serve as a symbol of partnership between the people of Pakistan and the international community.
Okoth-Obbo underscored that UNHCR very much looks forward to working with Khan to help reinvigorate support for refugees.