Actor uses WEF speech to accuse politicians of pandering to populists
The actor Cate Blanchett has condemned the shameful way in which refugees are treated, and accused politicians of pandering to populist voices.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, Blanchett called for renewed compassion to help the 65 million people who have been displaced worldwide, including 22 million refugees.
Blanchett told a session at WEF that the world has reached “a fork in the road”.
“I think it’s shameful. There’s so much misinformation about refugees,” she said. “They are forced to flee, and then they are vilified in the media.”
The Australian actor is a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, having visited refugee camps in Jordan and the Lebanon to raise awareness. On Monday night, she received a Crystal award from WEF for her work.
Blanchett pointed out that only 1% of the world’s displaced people have been resettled in developed countries. Developing countries are picking up the burden, with a quarter of Lebanon’s population now refugees, mainly from Syria.
Politicians, Blanchett said, must show compassion and responsibility, adding: “We try to teach our children to be compassionate, to be tolerant, to accept diversity, to share. But all the structures that are around them are not doing the same, so it’s quite a schizophrenic world they’re living in.”
Davos also heard that 2018 could face fresh humanitarian crises, which could lead to even more refugees seeking sanctuary across the globe.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said there were many fragile situations that could develop into “full-fledged” conflicts this year.
He cited southern Philippines – which is currently under martial law – Myanmar, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and large parts of Africa as risks. “We don’t know which one will blow up in our face,” Maurer warned.
Maurer also told WEF that aid agencies lacked the financial resources to address the many pressing problems across the world.
Davos also debated the battle against sexual harassment. Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, said the #MeToo campaign had helped women around the world tackle the “deep” problem of sexual exploitation.
Byanyima said Oxfam hears many stories from female workers in the developing world who are exploited and abused, such as domestic workers who are treated no better than slaves.
The solution must include removing laws that discriminate against women, tackle the social norms that justify exploitation, and help women into leadership positions, she explained.
“It is not an accident that women are abused sexually at work or at home. It’s due to the social norms that are there to justify their economic exploitation,” Byanyima said.