Actor Theo James named UNHCR global goodwill ambassador

LONDON (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee agency named British actor Theo James as a global goodwill ambassador on Monday.

James, who acted in television series "The Gentlemen" and "The White Lotus", has supported UNHCR since 2016, and has travelled to Greece, France and Jordan to meet asylum seekers and refugees, the agency said.

James said his own family's experience had "given me an understanding of the sacrifices and struggles that refugees face".

"During the Second World War, my grandfather was forced to flee on a small boat from Greece to Syria, and his courage and resilience has inspired me to help make a difference to the lives of displaced people," he said in a statement.

"... My grandfather was welcomed and offered shelter by the people of Syria, which enabled him to rebuild his life as a doctor and give something back. That is why it is important for me to stand in solidarity with refugees who have fled conflicts today and to help share their stories. They need our support now more than ever."

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said last week the number of people forcibly displaced stood at a record 117.3 million at the end of last year, and that this figure could rise without without global political changes.

"No one chooses to become a refugee. But we can all choose how to respond to people in need of sanctuary, whose lives depend upon it," James said.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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