UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said: “It is with great delight that we welcome Nomzamo Mbatha to the UNHCR family.
“She has shown tireless commitment to shining a light on refugee situations across Africa, and I look forward to seeing her inspire many more people in this new role.”
Grandi said Mbatha’s appointment came at a time when war, conflict and persecution had forced over 68million people to flee their homes - the highest level of displacement ever recorded.
More than 25 million of these people were refugees, with sub- Saharan Africa hosting over 31% of the global refugee population, said Grandi.
He said the UN Refugee Agency led international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution.
Mbatha had since 2017 worked in close co-operation with UNHCR as a high-profile supporter and advocate for the UNHCR’s LuQuLuQu campaign, raising awareness for the forcibly displaced in Africa, said Grandi.
Mbatha’s engagement included visits to experience the UNHCR’s life-saving work in camps and settlements in Malawi, Kenya and South Sudan.
He said Mbatha had also hosted the 2018 Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony, which honoured South Sudanese humanitarian Dr Evan Atar, and had spoken at TEDxKakumaCamp in Kenya, the first ever TEDx event to be hosted in a refugee camp.
Established in 1992 to serve Sudanese refugees, Kakuma Camp had since expanded to take in people fleeing from war situations across the continent of Africa.
In her talk at the camp, Mbatha reflected on how her deep attachment to helping refugees, particularly women and children, was rooted in her personal life story of overcoming adversity.
“The strength of refugees, their ability to persevere and their ingenuity for making the best of a difficult situation, is what I celebrate.
“Being named a Goodwill Ambassador is an incredible honour and I can’t wait to embark on this journey, learn more and use my voice to truly be an agent of change,” Mbatha said.
- THE MERCURY