‘Kite Runner’ author praises UN refugee agency in new novel
In the afterward to “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” Khaled Hosseini wrote that “over the past year, I have had the privilege of working as a US envoy for UNHCR [the UN High Commissioner for Refugees],” which he calls “one of the world’s foremost humanitarian agencies.”
Mr. Hosseini was named Humanitarian of the Year in 2006 for raising awareness about the plight of Afghan refugees his first novel, “The Kite Runner.” The author and his family left Afghanistan in 1976, seeking asylum four years later in the United States, and his new novel is an account of two women over the span of three decades in the war-torn country.
UNHCR is active in assisting Afghan refugees, helping more than 4 million return to their homeland following the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and providing protection to an additional 3 million residing in Pakistan and Iran.
Earlier this year, Mr. Hosseini visited UNHCR camps in eastern Chad housing almost a quarter of a million refugees from Sudan’s Darfur region in an effort to draw greater attention to the crisis in the US and to see the operation with his own eyes.
“The visit certainly changed me in a very profound way,” Mr. Hosseini said. “For one thing, it fortified in my mind the notion of how fortunate I am, and how fortunate my children are, to be living in a free country and to have so many things that we take for granted.”
He added, “In the camps, people told me stories of the Janjaweed [Arab militia] attacking their villages and killing children, killing women, killing the elderly. Their homes are burnt and everything they own is taken from them.”
On World Refugee Day on 20 June, Mr. Hosseini will take part in a UNHCR panel in San Francisco on the theme, “A new home, a new life.”