Foreign minister Bert Koenders and actor Johnny de Mol call attention in New York to plight of refugees

Actor and presenter Johnny de Mol will be going behind the scenes of global politics this week. At the invitation of foreign minister Bert Koenders he will spend several days at the UN headquarters in New York, where heads of government and ministers are gathering for the opening of the General Assembly.

This week the international community will be in New York to talk about the challenges we are up against. Mr Koenders and Mr De Mol each help tackle these challenges in their own way. On several occasions Mr De Mol has travelled to the Greek island of Lesbos, where his foundation Movement On The Ground has been working since 2015 to help refugees by finding innovative ways of restoring humanity to refugee camps. Mr Koenders’ efforts involve working with fellow ministers on an internationally coordinated approach to addressing the root causes of mass migratory and refugee flows, including conflicts and human rights violations.

‘The connection between international cooperation and local action is very important in this turbulent world,’ Mr Koenders said. ‘That’s why I want to show   Johnny what we do here. This is the only place in the world where 193 countries get together and talk. And Johnny with his personal experience of working with refugees can give us that all important reality check.’

Mr De Mol will be finding out more about some of the key topics the UN deals with. He will be in attendance as Mr Koenders speaks before the Security Council about modernising peace operations. He will also accompany the minister to a meeting about the crisis in Syria and attend talks about counterterrorism efforts led by the Netherlands.

‘For as long as I can remember,’ Mr De Mol explains, ‘I’ve cared about others and felt the urge to help. I want to make a difference where I can by rolling up my sleeves and getting on with the job, like on Lesbos. I’m aware that in the long term it will also take cooperation and agreements between countries. That’s why I feel genuinely honoured that the minister is giving me this chance to look over his shoulder and to speak at the UN. I’m looking forward to this educational and valuable experience.’