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Barbara Hendricks



The world famous soprano Barbara Hendricks is the longest-serving Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. Her outstanding commitment has been recognized and in 2002 she was named Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador - the only UNHCR celebrity ambassador to hold this title.

Having been on a number of field missions, Hendricks is committed to making a real difference for refugees and carries her advocacy to the highest diplomatic and governmental levels. She is particularly concerned about the plight of refugee women. She also takes an active part in various awareness-raising events for the refugee cause.

In 1989, she went on field missions to Mozambique and Zambia, where she visited a group of refugees preparing to return to Namibia. In 1990, she visited Vietnamese refugees in Pulau Bidong camp in Malaysia.

In 1992, she travelled to several Cambodian refugee sites inThailand. One year later, she returned to greet some of those same refugees as they returned home with the UNHCR help. She later arranged funding for three years for a collaborative project between UNHCR and Handicap International for the rehabilitation of victims of anti-personnel mines in the country.

She then undertook a mission to Tanzania,RwandaandBurundi, which had been affected by mass displacements. On December 31, 1991, she gave a concert for peace in Croatia's Dubrovnik, which was then a city under fire. She returned to the Balkans in 1997 to witness developments in post-conflict projects in Sarajevo. In May 2002, she performed at the independence celebrations for the former Indonesian territory of East Timor.

More recently, in October 2010, Hendricks visited the refugee camps in Ethiopia. She met with newly arrived Somali refugees in the east of the country and long-staying Eritrean refugees in the north.

In addition to her many field visits, Hendricks has met with heads of state and government officials responsible for refugee matters. She has also been an active participant of the World Refugee Day and has supported the annual Nansen Refugee Award, taking part in the presentation ceremonies in 2003, 2009 and 2011.

In 2004, she participated in a film tribute to the former top UNHCR staff member Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in Baghdad a year earlier. Also in 2004, she participated in a UNHCR concert - Voices for Darfur - at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Hendricks uses every possible media occasion to express her concerns for protection of refugees and is a particularly impassioned speaker on the rights of refugee women. Since 2001, she has also been an active board member of the Refugee Education Trust.

In September 2009, Hendricks was awarded the Save the Children Friend of Children award for her work for refugee children.

Living in Sweden, she supports UNHCR's public awareness activities in the Nordic countries. In May 2008, Hendricks gave a blues concert at Finland's largest cultural event, the Helsinki World Village Festival. Her performance was accompanied by a slide show portraying refugees and UNHCR's work to help them. In May 2011, she represented UNHCR in Oslo, Norway, at the opening of the TRANSIT photo exhibition, about Fridtjof Nansen, the first international High Commissioner for Refugees.

In November 2011, Hendricks spoke at the opening of the Swedish Forum for Human Rights in Stockholm, which attracted several thousand representatives from academia, civil society, government and media, and where UNHCR organized seminars on refugees and statelessness.