Actress Kristin Davis has weighed in on Australia’s response to the global asylum seeker crisis, praising the “extraordinary” humanitarian work being done by NGOs and charities to support those in need.
Best known for playing the incurable romantic Charlotte in popular television sitcom Sex and the City, Davis has made her first trip to Canberra as part of her role as UNHCR supporter.
Her trip has involved a whirlwind round of meetings in Canberra with government officials, including Federal Minister for Women Michaelia Cash.
And her visit could not be more timely.
Right when Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers has come under sharp international criticism, with the release last week of a Human Rights Watch report suggesting Australia has damaged its record on refugees, Davis brings a very different perspective.
As a renowned animal rights activist and award-winning humanitarian, Davis has spent many years travelling the world’s hot spots, particularly in Africa.
She said she had seen first-hand the “extraordinary” and “outstanding” humanitarian work Australian individuals, NGOs, and private charity organisations were quietly doing in various corners of the world to support refugees and people in desperate need.
“Australians are making a huge impact globally in terms of support for refugees on a global front,” Davis said.
“In terms of their support for women in conflict, livelihood building in Congo, in Uganda.
“You’re a major player and it’s really wonderful to see.”
One such example can be found tucked away in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where, thanks to the generosity of individual Australians and philanthropic support, Australia for UNHCR has distinguished itself as the single-largest private sector provider of programs to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.
Davis visited some of these programs during a recent trip to the region and heard horrific stories from young women who had been subjected to sustained and brutal sexual violence.
One of the first tasks for the humanitarian workers, she said, was to provide healing.
“It’s horrific that it’s happening, but it would be even more horrific if those women were not then able to tell people about it and receive the kind of counselling and help that they need,” she said.
With women and children making up 83 per cent of the world’s 60 million refugees, Davis said “we don’t need to be afraid of them, rather we need to be afraid for them”.
Davis said gender-based violence, which is used as a weapon of war during conflict, was one of the world’s greatest challenges.
But Davis said in the face of such horror, and with such massive numbers of refugees now displaced around the world, there was still a lot she could do.
“My job is to bear witness and to tell the world what I see,” she said.
“I feel that we don’t have a question about helping them, I think the question is how to best help them.”
Davis said people who were lucky enough to be born in countries that were free, safe and plentiful, had a “moral imperative” to help those that were not as fortunate.
She did take some time out of her schedule in Canberra to address the latest Sex and the City rumours.
The show ran from 1998 until 2004 and led to two feature films, and Davis was happy to speculate about a third.
“I hope so, people ask me and I wish I could give a definitive ‘yes’, but I don’t know,” she said.
“All of us want to do it.
“I wish I could tell you why it hasn’t happened yet … fingers crossed.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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