Oscar winner Cate Blanchett has urged the European Parliament to challenge the “dangerous myth” that “each and every refugee is headed here to Europe”.
On Wednesday, Blanchett addressed MEPs ahead of the plenary session and amid the conflict in Gaza and Israel.
The goodwill ambassador for UN Refugee Agency UNHCR said: “I am not Syrian. I am not Ukrainian. I am not Yemeni. I am not Afghani. I am not from South Sudan. I am not from Israel or Palestine.
“I’m not a politician. I am not even a pundit. But I am a witness.
“And having witnessed the human cost of war, violence and persecution, visiting refugees from across the globe, I cannot look away.”
The 54-year-old also said: “I urge each and every one of you here today to stand firm in challenging the dangerous myth pedalled far too widely and stoking far too much fear and hostility that each and every refugee is headed here to Europe.
“It has been tempting for some in Europe, to depict the challenge of refugees as a new one.
“The 1951 refugee convention, they say, is from another time.
“It was not designed to meet the challenge of so many people on the move, especially in a time of mass forced displacement, or when new forms of large scale displacement linked to climate change or natural disasters appear.
“The claim is that it places too many demands on our resources, on our schools.
“Our hospitals, our job markets, or the new arrivals with their different languages and cultures will somehow undermine the values of those who host them.
“Apart from the monumental compassion deficit in this argument, it also demonstrates a dangerous disregard for history.
“Madam president, for centuries, Europe, like so much of the world has been criss-crossed by people who have fled home in search of protection from war.”
Ending her address, Blanchett said that flexible humanitarian funding has never been more urgent with “the number of forcibly displaced people at an all-time high”.
She then thanked the Parliament, EU, and governments and organisations who have helped those fleeing the war in Ukraine, adding: “This solidarity should not be limited to one group, but afforded to all.”
Blanchett, who has appeared in films including Carol and Ocean’s 8, became goodwill ambassador for UNHCR in May 2016.
In 2018, she addressed the UN Security Council on the Rohingya refugee crisis and recalled her experience visiting Bangladesh.
The actress co-created and executively produced the 2020 TV mini-series Stateless, which touches on issues of asylum and the Australian immigration system.
In 2023, she visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan for the second time to draw attention to the stories and needs of refugees.