World Refugee Day: 18 Celebrities and Public Figures You Didn’t Know Were Refugees

This year’s World Refugee Day comes at a gut-wrenching time for our country. The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy has brought detrimental repercussions to thousands of families — many of which are seeking asylum.

In honor of World Refugee Day 2018, we’ve compiled a list of celebrities and public figures who can relate to many of the separated families at the United States-Mexico border. Take a look at the celebrities and public figures who once fled their home countries in pursuit of refuge, ahead.

1. Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis attends the premiere of STX Entertainment's "A Bad Moms Christmas"

Mila Kunis | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Did you know Mila Kunis is originally from Ukraine? When Kunis was just seven-years-old, she and her family fled from Soviet Ukraine to escape the Cold War. The actress came to the United States on a refugee visa.

2. Andy Garcia

Andy Garcia might be a famous Hollywood actor, but he’s also a refugee. Following the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, The Godfather Part III actor fled to Miami.

3. Alek Wek

When civil war broke out in Sudan, supermodel Alek Wek and her family fled to the country’s capital. From there, her mother sent Wek and her sister to London. “Our parents tried to shield us from the conflict, but the sounds of gunfire and the vibrations of explosions filled us with dread,” she told The UN Refugee Agency.

4. Rita Ora

When Rita Ora was just one year old, the pop star and her family fled Kosovo for the United Kingdom. At the time, Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia where Albanians faced persecution under Slobodan Milosevic’s regime.

5. Madeleine Albright

Before she was the first female U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was a refugee. Albright and her family fled Czechoslovakia twice — once during World War II and again during the Communist takeover in 1948.

6. Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor at the 2010 New Yorker Festival | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Another celebrity you didn’t know was a refugee? Regina Spektor. At nine-years-old, the Moscow-born singer and her family fled the Soviet Union in the face of religious persecution.

7. Freddie Mercury

Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury was also a refugee. The rockstar was born in Zanzibar, Africa and grew up between the African island and India. In 1964, a revolution broke out in Zanzibar, and he and his family moved to London to seek refuge.

8. Henry Kissinger

Another former government official who was once a refugee? Henry Kissinger. The former U.S. Secretary of State was raised in Germany but fled during the Holocaust in 1938.

9. Sigmund Freud

Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis fled his home country in 1930 when the Nazi regime took over. He and his wife found safety in London.

10. Albert Einstein

In 1933, Albert Einstein fled Germany for the United States in hopes of living in “a land where political freedom, tolerance, and equality of all citizens reign.”

11. Gloria Estefan

Following Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in Cuba, Gloria Estefan and her family fled their home country of Cuba. She was only two-years-old at the time.

12. M.I.A.

At the time of the ethnic civil war in Sri Lanka, singer M.I.A. and her family fled to London in pursuit of safety.

13. Iman

In 1972, supermodel Iman and her family were forced to leave their war-torn home country of Somalia for Kenya.

14. Luol Deng

Luol Deng

Luol Deng | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When Luol Deng was just five-years-old, he and his family fled war-torn Sudan for London. He grew up to be a basketball superstar in the United States and has played for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

15. Lucian Freud

Five years after his grandfather, Sigmund Freud fled for London to escape the Nazi regime, Lucian Freud followed. Freud went on to become a famous painter and draftsman, best known for his figurative art.

16. Marlene Dietrich

Classic Hollywood actress, Marlene Dietrich got her start in Germany during the 1920s. However, after the Nazi regime began its takeover, she fled her home country for Hollywood to become an American citizen. Dietrich was grateful for the United State’s hospitality, later stating “America took me into her bosom when I no longer had a native country worth of the name.”

17. Saido Berahino

Stoke City’s striker, Saido Berahino was also a refugee. At 10-years-old, the British soccer player fled his home country of Burundi after his father was killed in the civil war.

18. Dr. Ruth Westheimer

During World War II, Sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer left Nazi-occupied Germany and spent part of her childhood in a Swiss orphanage.

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