European Goodwill Ambassador, Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett urged the European Union in Brussels on Wednesday to increase support for refugees and host countries and ensure the bloc’s policies focus on protecting them and not on fortifying borders. However, her emotional speech was not only met with praise. The Czech MEPs evaluated it as an embarrassment, naive activism or moralizing clichés.
Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who has been a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since 2016, spoke to the members of the European Parliament on Wednesday before the start of the plenary session. In her speech, she mainly appealed to MEPs to work to increase refugee protection and support for host countries and challenge the “dangerous myth” that every refugee is heading to Europe. According to her, the European Union should provide 600 million dollars to support displaced refugees.
Cate Blanchett emphasized that there are 114 million forcibly displaced people in the world today. It is important that the European Union and its Member States continue to financially support humanitarian work, including the work of the UN Refugee Agency, to help people around the world in the many ongoing conflicts.
She also called for respect for international refugee law, referring to the Geneva Convention of 1951. According to her, it is “not only still relevant, but also fundamental to our common humanity.” Indeed, the universal principles enshrined in the Convention and put into practice have saved millions of lives, she said.
“You have to understand that nobody puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land,” she said. “I thank the EU for its long-term financial support to refugees and their hosts around the world and I urge the continuation and increase of support. The world is watching,” Blanchett emphasized, noting that a record 114 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape violence, conflict, persecution and human rights abuses.
With the high number of people potentially displaced, Blanchett said flexible humanitarian funding had never been more urgent, saying the European Union should invest in education and livelihoods to ensure families have opportunities to stay where they are and not have to move. “No one will benefit from a generation of alienated and excluded youth,” added the Oscar winner for Best Actress in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
“I am not a politician, but I am a witness. After witnessing the human cost of war, violence and persecution by refugees from all over the world, I could not look away from it,” she stated.
At the same time, she called on everyone present to be strong in challenging the widespread and dangerous myth that every refugee is heading here to Europe. According to her, he causes too much fear and hostility.
Blanchett, who is of Australian descent, then criticized her home country’s harsh anti-immigration policies, which have sent asylum seekers to detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru for years. She said she felt “shame and regret” at Australia’s approach and also spoke of the psychological impact of the conditions on many detained refugees.
Although her speech ended with a standing ovation, Blanchett also received a lot of criticism, including from Czech MEPs. MEP Tomáš Zdechovský (KDU-ČSL) https://twitter.com/TomasZdechovsky/status/1722274487188791526 her performance for embarrassment. “Her mixing of illegal migration and refugees with moving stories from visiting different places on the planet was the least funny,” he commented, noting that he respects her as an actress, but when she doesn’t understand things, “it’s a bit pointless when she comes to the EP to tell us about how we should help more and take more people from conflict regions. Because the EU takes in the most refugees.” In conclusion, he pointed out that Blanchett herself comes from Australia, which is one of the countries with the strictest migration policy, and no one is stopping her from helping more in the Middle East and Africa.
https://twitter.com/ZahradilJan/status/1722265080455372825 MEP Jan Zahradil (ODS) Blanchett presented a mixture of naive activism, moralizing clichés and emotional blackmail. “She did not say a word about the economic, social and political risks of migration. Expected,” he added.