Ben Stiller reflects on meeting president Zelensky and Ukrainian refugees

The American actor visited the war-torn country in June.
Ben Stiller reflects on meeting president Zelensky and Ukrainian refugees

By Connie Evans, PA Entertainment Reporter

Ben Stiller has said he was “really taken by the resilience of the people of Ukraine, and of the president”, while reflecting on the time he spent in war-torn Ukraine.

The 56-year-old American actor and producer, who gained recognition for his roles in films such as Zoolander and the Meet The Parents trilogy, visited the country in June as part of his long-term role as a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

Just over a month after his return, Stiller expressed his awe at meeting president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Ukrainian citizens, telling Deadline: “I was really taken by the resilience of the people of Ukraine, and of the President.

“His incredible sense of how he has risen to the moment and offered his people leadership and true resolve to get through this awful situation.”

Since the war with Russia began in February, millions of Ukrainians have fled to Poland.

Before his visit to Ukraine, Stiller also went to the large south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszow, close to the Ukrainian border.

He started working with the UNHCR in 2016 and has travelled with the body to meet refugees in Germany, Jordan, Guatemala and Lebanon.

Speaking about the “overwhelming” experience of seeing the consequences the war has had for Ukrainian people, Stiller said: “There are seven or eight million people, just within the country, who have been displaced.

“It’s just so overwhelming when you see the reality of it.”

He added: “When you go over there, you see it’s not just the physical effects of the war and the destruction.

“It’s also the trauma and the psychological effects of what happens when you’re forced to fight for your life in a situation that you have nothing to do with.”

Stiller also explained what he learnt from the experience, citing the courageous attitudes of the Ukrainian people he encountered: “They said, ‘For us, we have no choice. This is our country, and they’re trying to obliterate us.’

“It makes you think what you’d do in that situation.

“Standing in solidarity with these people is so important.”

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