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Ben Stiller testifies before Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Syria

Actor Ben Stiller swapped the red carpet for the Senate Office floor on Wednesday to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and advise on how the U.S. should step in. 

The 53-year-old actor is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and spent the last couple of years visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Germany. 

On Wednesday he shared stories of the families he’s met that have fled their home country in light of Syria’s bloody conflict during a hearing entitled ‘The Humanitarian Impact of Eight Years of War in Syria’. 

In classic comedian fashion, the Meet the Fockers actor opened his speech with a joke saying, ‘It’s great to be here in person, I watch you all on television all the time. You all look much taller in person.’

Actor Ben Stiller, 53, spoke before Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the humanitarian crisis in Syria on Wednesday

When he's not acting, Stiller is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has visited Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Germany

When he’s not acting, Stiller is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has visited Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Germany

Ben Stiller testifies before Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Syria

‘We must not look away, we cannot let Syrian families go deeper into destitution and we cannot let their children be part of a lost generation,’ he said before the Committee

He shared stories of the war-torn families he's met that have fled their home country in light of Syria's bloody eight-year-long Civil War

He shared stories of the war-torn families he’s met that have fled their home country in light of Syria’s bloody eight-year-long Civil War

Then Stiller opened up about the ‘frightening and traumatic’ reality of millions of refugees around the world. 

‘In many parts of the world the term refugee has unfortunately become politicized besides the fact that refugees are real people with real stories. Stories that are some of the most frightening and traumatic that I’ve heard, especially as a father,’ the famed actor said.

‘I try to imagine how I would feel if caught in the middle of conflict and unable to my children. If my son was at risk of forced recruitment or my daughter at risk of unimaginable violence…If any of us would take a moment to really consider this we would have a tiny sense of what everyday life is like for millions of people across the world,’ he continued. 

He told the story of a young Syrian family with four children he met in Lebanon, where they’ve lived for eight years. The became so desperate to make ends meet the father sold his liver on Facebook and last year when the mother became pregnant, she was advised to sell her baby for money.

‘It sheds light on the family’s desperate circumstances,’ Stiller said. 

Stiller pictured smiling with International Rescue Committee CEO David Miliband testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Stiller pictured smiling with International Rescue Committee CEO David Miliband testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Wednesday's hearing was entitled 'The Humanitarian Impact of Eight Years of War in Syria'

Wednesday’s hearing was entitled ‘The Humanitarian Impact of Eight Years of War in Syria’

Stiller recounted his experience with a Syrian refugee family in Lebanon that were so desperate for money the father tried to sell his kidney on Facebook and the mother was advised to sell her child

Stiller recounted his experience with a Syrian refugee family in Lebanon that were so desperate for money the father tried to sell his kidney on Facebook and the mother was advised to sell her child 

‘But for being born in a different country, it could well be me and not them sitting in a small, cold, makeshift shelter… these people have lost everything,’ he added.

Then he went on to urge the U.S. to be generous in aiding the splintered refugee population. 

‘The United States has been the most generous donor to many humanitarian crises, including the Syria situation. I urge you to maintain this generosity,’ he said. 

Since the start of the war the U.S. has provided nearly $9billion in  humanitarian aid to Syria, according to the State Department.

But the Trump administration has cut that aid money and has made controversial moves to withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria. Trump also refused to fund the rebuilding of demolished areas under Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s control.  

He noted that refugees struggle financially having to move multiple times and struggling to land secure jobs. 

Proud ambassador: Stiller has opened up about his experience meeting refugees and hearing their stories on Instagram

Proud ambassador: Stiller has opened up about his experience meeting refugees and hearing their stories on Instagram 

The Civil War in Syria started eight years ago, sparked by the wave of the Arab Spring, and has killed more than half a million citizens. Syrian men pictured above carrying babies through rubble of destroyed buildings in Aleppo after a bomb went off in 2016

The Civil War in Syria started eight years ago, sparked by the wave of the Arab Spring, and has killed more than half a million citizens. Syrian men pictured above carrying babies through rubble of destroyed buildings in Aleppo after a bomb went off in 2016

Some six million Syrians have fled their home country as a result of the conflict, about half are children. A Kurdish Syrian woman pictured above walking with her child past the ruins of the town of Kobane in 2015

Some six million Syrians have fled their home country as a result of the conflict, about half are children. A Kurdish Syrian woman pictured above walking with her child past the ruins of the town of Kobane in 2015 

Stiller urged the committee to ensure refugees have access to work, health services, livelihood opportunities, education for their children and ‘long term structural support’. In this way refugees can contribute to their new communities and countries, rather than sitting and idly collect aid.   

‘We must not look away, we cannot let Syrian families go deeper into destitution and we cannot let their children be part of a lost generation,’ he continued. 

Stiller then asked the committee to ensure that aid agencies have ‘unhindered access’ to areas of return inside of Syria so that returning refugee families can have access to help. 

The Civil War in Syria started eight years ago, sparked by the wave of the Arab Spring. 

In the conflict more than a half million Syrians have been killed. Nearly 6million have become refugees – half of which are children.   

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk