The UN said that it had enlisted Yusra Mardini, the teenage Olympic swimmer who withstood a Mediterranean crossing in a leaky dinghy fleeing war-torn Syria, to help raise awareness about the plight of refugees. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said that it had appointed Ms Mardini as its newest Goodwill Ambassador, a role long famously held by US movie star Angelina Jolie.
“Yusra Mardini has become a powerful voice for the forcibly displaced across the world and a powerful example of their resilience and determination to rebuild lives and positively contribute to host communities,” UNHCR said in a statement. The 19-year-old’s story is indeed inspiring. In 2015, like millions of others, she fled her home in war-ravaged Syria.
During a perilous journey to the Greek island of Lesbos on board a packed dinghy, the engine failed and the craft began taking on water. Ms Mardini and her sister jumped into the sea, grabbed a rope and spent the next three-and-a-half hours in the choppy water towing the boat to safety.