Bridgerton actor: Refugees are just you and me in different circumstances

Bridgerton actor: Refugees are just you and me in different circumstances

Politicians using refugees as “political scapegoats or footballs” must be reminded they are people in need of empathy and compassion, Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh has said.

Famous for most recently starring as Lady Danbury in the Netflix hit series, the actor is lending her voice to a short film made to highlight the plight facing those displaced from their homes due to conflict or persecution.

Andoh, whose journalist father had to flee Ghana in the 1950s for a new life in the UK, spoke out as part of Refugee Week.

She told the PA news agency it is important to remember anyone could find themselves a refugee, if circumstances changed.

She said: “Refugees are just you and me, in different circumstances.

“If we can do anything to make their lives easier – if we can speak to our politicians, and remind them, when they are using refugees as political scapegoats, or footballs, or ways of obtaining power, that they are people just like us, that they need our attention, our empathy, our compassion.”

The film, by charity Migrant Help, challenges viewers to imagine the experience of having to leave their home within 60 seconds, showing a family hurriedly packing their belongings including medicines and cherished photographs.

Andoh narrated words written by British-Somali poet Momtaza Mehri, asking: “How much of your life could you carry on your back? In seconds, your home slips between your fingers. No time for goodbyes.”

The actor described it as “an honour to lend my voice in support of refugees and displaced people all over the world”, adding: “I know so many friends who have come from all over the world because their parents needed to flee, and they have grown up in this country.”

During recent promotion for Bridgerton in Poland, which happened to coincide with the D-Day anniversary, Andoh said she met refugees from Ukraine and was reminded “how fleeting” safety can be.

She said people must think about asylum and refugee policies, and how people coming to the UK are treated.

She told PA: “We have to think of the practical ways in which we can support them (refugees), that we can put our voices to the call – that says ‘see the human being in front of you, think about their circumstances, think about those babies traversing the dangerous waters of the seas with their parents because where they come from, it’s too frightening to stay in that place’.

“Think about the welcome we provide them, think about the way we may speak to them, think about our asylum policies, our refugee policies, and the way we treat displaced people.”

The UN Refuge Agency, the UNHCR, said an estimated 117.3 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing the public order at the end of 2023.

The agency said its estimates predict that by the end of April 2024 that figure is likely to have exceeded 120 million.

Caroline O’Connor, chief executive of Migrant Help, said: “Refugee Week is an important opportunity to pause and reflect on the people displaced around the world; those whose very reality mirrors the family in our film, having to suddenly leave their home behind in a matter of minutes, often to never return.

“We hope the film will prompt the UK public to remember there are real people behind the many statistics and headlines surrounding refugees, with stories, hopes and dreams – just like ours.

“No-one chooses where they are born, or the struggles or conflict they are born into. No-one chooses to be a refugee. They deserve hope and understanding from us all.”

Immigration, both legal and illegal, has been a talking point of the General Election campaign, and the “stop the boats” phrase has been central in Rishi Sunak’s leadership.

Under pressure from the Tory right on the issue, the Conservatives have promised a “relentless” process of removing people to Rwanda until Channel crossings end.

Their manifesto stopped short of saying the UK could leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), despite calls from some on the right of the party, including former home secretary Suella Braverman.

Labour meanwhile has promised to scrap the multimillion-pound stalled plan to send migrants to Rwanda and use the money to pay for a new security border command.

If elected it has pledged to launch the unit with “hundreds of new specialist investigators”, vowing to “use counter-terror powers to smash criminal boat gangs” in a bid to curb Channel crossings.

Labour stated its commitment to international legal conventions, with its manifesto saying: “Britain will unequivocally remain a member of the European Convention on Human Rights.”