Ben Stiller visits Ukraine on World Refugee Day and meets President Zelensky: ‘You’re my hero’

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Ben Stiller has said “seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person” during a visit to Poland and Ukraine, where he met those affected by the ongoing war with Russia.

Stiller, who is a long-term Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – the UN refugee agency – visited Ukraine on World Refugee Day (20 June).

Stiller met with President Zelensky on Monday, and called him “my hero”. Stiller shook Zelensky’s hand and said: “Sir, really nice to meet you. Thanks for taking the time. You’re my hero.” He added that he was inspired by Zelensky, “for what you’ve done in this country and for the world”.

The pair also shared a lighter moment, with Stiller complimenting the President on his “great acting career”. Zelensky responded “Not as great as you,” and laughed.

In a video posted to his Instagram account, Stiller said: “Hey, I’m Ben Stiller, and I’m here in Ukraine. I’m meeting people who’ve been impacted by the war and hearing how it’s changed their lives. War and violence are devastating people all over the world. Nobody chooses to flee their home. Seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person.”

Since the outbreak of war in February, millions of Ukrainians have fled to Poland. On June 18, Stiller met with Ukrainian refugee Marina, who fled the city of Kharkiv with her three children two months ago.

He started working with the UNHCR in 2016 and has travelled with the body to meet refugees in Germany, Jordan, Guatemala and Lebanon.

In a statement to mark World Refugee Day, the Zoolander and Night At The Museum actor said: “I’m here meeting people forced to flee their homes due to the war in Ukraine.

“People have shared stories about how the war has changed their lives – how they’ve lost everything and are deeply worried about their future. Over the years I’ve had the chance to meet refugees and asylum seekers from around the world – from Syria, Central America, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Ukraine.”

He continued: “In so many parts of the world, war and violence devastate people and leave lasting traumatic effects. Wherever and whenever it happens, nobody chooses to flee their home. Seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person. Protecting people forced to flee is a collective global responsibility. We have to remember this could happen to anyone, anywhere.”