Home > About Us > UNHCR People > Goodwill Ambassadors > Barbara Hendricks > Barbara Hendricks and UNHCR

Barbara Hendricks and UNHCR

About Us
© Paul Hansen

World renowned soprano Barbara Hendricks has worked and travelled tirelessly on behalf of refugees since she was named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 1987. In 2002, she was appointed Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of her long service for the refugee agency.

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 in Thailand. One year later, she returned to greet some of those same refugees as they returned home with 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, Rwanda and Burundi, 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.

In October 2010, Hendricks visited 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. More recently, in July 2012, Hendricks met with refugees in Burkina Faso who had fled the violence in neighbouring Mali.

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 in World Refugee Day activities and has supported the annual Nansen Refugee Award. In 2004, she participated in a film tribute to former top UNHCR staff member Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in a bombing 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 and fund-raising efforts. Since its establishment in 2009, Hendricks has been chairperson of the UNHCR Fund-raising Foundation in Sweden.