Ben Stiller shares details from Ukraine visit after he meets ‘hero’ Zelensky

Actor met people who fled their homes since Russia’s invasion started

22 June 2022 - 09:33
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
Hollywood actor and goodwill ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency Ben Stiller meets Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Image: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters Hollywood actor and goodwill ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency Ben Stiller meets Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Actor Ben Stiller, a goodwill ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said it was “distressing” to hear the experiences of people displaced by the Ukraine conflict, adding he hoped to shine a light on their plight with his visit to the country.

He said it was crucial for people not to turn away from and lose interest in the war after it has raged for several months.

Stiller, travelled to Poland and Ukraine over the past few days to meet people who had fled their homes since Russia's invasion began.

“It was definitely a different experience to be here in person and see the effects of the war and see how people are having to cope. It's distressing to see and hear the experiences these people have gone through,” Stiller said in a telephone interview.

“It's really tough to see and I'm very glad I came to get a different sense you don't get from watching television.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February, has claimed thousands of civilian lives, displaced millions of Ukrainians and reduced cities to rubble. Moscow said it is involved in a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

During his trip which started in Poland, Stiller visited a UNHCR warehouse in Rzeszow and the Medyka border crossing. In Ukraine, he travelled to Lviv, Irpin, which was heavily damaged at the start of the conflict, and Kyiv, where he met President Volodymyr Zelensky, telling him “You are my hero”,

He has shared pictures of his trip and on Monday put out a message calling for compassion on World Refugee Day. More than 12-million people have fled their homes since the start of the war, according to UNHCR.

“It’s natural for people to want to turn away, especially in a situation like this with a war that has been going on for some time while dealing with our own personal issues,” Stiller told Reuters.

“But it is important to be aware of what is going on in different parts of the world.”

Stiller was appointed a goodwill ambassador in 2018 and has previously met refugees in Germany, Jordan, Guatemala and Lebanon. 

Reuters