“What if somebody spots me and calls the police because I’m illegal?”
That’s just one of many fears that refugees face as they seek safety and asylum in a new land, and those questions are front and center in a powerful new video from the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR that enlists several Hollywood heavyweights to help raise awareness of refugees’ plight.
Cate Blanchett, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Keira Knightley, Kit Harington, Stanley Tucci, and Jesse Eisenberg are among those featured in the video, titled “What They Took With Them,” in which the actors read a rhythmic poem enumerating the items that refugees snatch at the moment their lives are uprooted.
Among the belongings: wallets, laptops, IDs, diplomas, overseas chargers for phones, painkillers and house keys.
The poem was inspired by first-person accounts from refugees themselves, and draws on images from a photography project by Brian Sokol called “The Most Important Thing” – several photos of which flash onscreen as the actors read the poem.
The video is part of UNHCR’s #WithRefugees campaign, whose primary push involves a petition urging governments to provide refugees with a safe home, a means of livelihood and education. It has garnered nearly a million signatures, as the U.N. gears up for a historic summit on Sept. 19 to address the global refugee crisis.Blanchett – who is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and has visited refugees in Lebanon and Jordan– also sat down with Chris Hemsworth for a Facebook Live discussion about the crisis, and the agency’s efforts to combat it.