Heard on the Hill

Ben Stiller gets personal with Congress on Syrian humanitarian crisis

Actor and director has traveled to Guatemala, Lebanon, Germany, and Jordan to meet with refugees

Ben Stiller, left, goodwill ambassador for United Nations Human Rights Council, and Chairman James Risch, R-Idaho, walk toward a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the humanitarian crisis in Syria on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There hasn’t been enough Hollywood on Capitol Hill this week so we’re gonna throw one more celebrity at you: the Focker himself, Ben Stiller.

The award-winning actor and director, best known for his role in, well, where do we even start — “Meet the Parents,” “Meet the Fockers,” “Dodgeball,” “Zoolander,” “There’s Something about Mary,” “Along Came Polly,” among many, many more — took his klout to the Capitol today to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The comedian naturally opened his remarks with humor: “It’s great to be here ... I watch you all on television all the time. You all look much taller in person.”

Stiller, appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) last July, has traveled to Guatemala, Lebanon, Germany, and Jordan to meet with refugees who have fled their war-torn homes, writing about his experience in a piece for TIME, “Nobody wants to be a refugee.”

Syria accounts for the world’s largest number of forcibly displaced people according to UNHCR, and relocation of such a massive influx to bordering communities “puts a strain on the host country” Stiller said in requesting more access and resources for the war-torn country.

In his statement to Chairman James Risch and members of the committee, Stiller brought to life the humanity behind the statistics by sharing the story of a young Syrian family he met in Lebanon whose circumstances are grave enough to prompt a friend to suggest they sell their newborn for money. While shedding light on the state of affairs after eight years, he also acknowledged that the United States remains UNHCR’s largest donor.

Although admitting the refugee crisis is “a complicated issue,” Stiller remained poised and well versed throughout his testimony.

This was Stiller’s first time testifying on Capitol Hill, although he’s no stranger to congressional hearings, famously playing President Donald Trump’s embattled former lawyer Michael Cohen on “Saturday Night Live.”

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