Actor and humanitarian envoy Ben Stiller met in Ukraine with refugees and officials including President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday as part of his visit to the region on World Refugee Day.
Stiller, the “Zoolander” star and goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency, also met with U.S. ambassador Bridget A. Brink in Lviv and visited the cities of Irpin and Makarov near Kyiv.
Stiller marveled to fellow actor Zelensky, who played Ukraine’s president on television before becoming the country’s real-life leader, about “the way that you’ve rallied the country — the world.”
He added, “You quit a great acting career for this.”
Zelensky replied, “Not so great as you!”
Stiller had earlier visited with Ukrainian refugees in Poland, which has taken in more than 1 million Ukrainians who were forced to flee their homes because of the war. He said his aim there was to stand in solidarity with the refugees there and worldwide, and to bring more attention to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
“People have shared stories about how the war has changed their lives — how they’ve lost everything and are deeply worried about their future,” Stiller said in a statement.
He continued: “Protecting people forced to flee is a collective global responsibility. We have to remember this could happen to anyone, anywhere.”
Stiller is not the only celebrity to visit Ukraine. Angelina Jolie made a surprise visit in April to the city of Lviv — which has been relatively spared from the heavy fighting and shelling in other parts of the country — where she met with children and refugees and was spotted at cafes by locals. (While millions have been forced out of Ukraine’s borders because of the war, millions more have been displaced domestically.)
Jolie, a U.N. special envoy for refugees, was there on a personal basis rather than on an official United Nations visit. Stiller’s trip was organized by the U.N. refugee agency.
The war in Ukraine has pushed global displacement to record levels, a “tragic milestone,” the agency said this month, at which point more than 100 million people had been forced to flee their homes — more than 1 percent of humanity.
The invasion has triggered the fastest forced-displacement crisis since World War II, it said. In addition to other emergency situations in Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere, the invasion has “pushed the figure over the dramatic milestone,” the agency said.
Jennifer Hassan and Sammy Westfall contributed to this report.