1 of 6 | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with American actor and producer Ben Stiller in Kyiv on Monday during his visit as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Photo via Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/UPI | License Photo
June 20 (UPI) -- American actor, director, producer and screenwriter Ben Stiller on Monday viewed areas of Ukraine devastated by the Russian invasion before meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Stiller, who like Zelensky first rose to prominence as a comic actor, visited formerly occupied areas of the Kyiv region during a tour with Karolina Lindholm Billing, the representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian presidential news service.
Among the areas they toured on World Refugee Day were the ruined residential areas of Irpin, where Stiller talked to people who survived the Russian occupation.
"War and violence are devastating people all over the world," he said in an Instagram post. "Nobody chooses to flee their home. Seeking safety is a right, and it needs to be upheld for every person."
The American star is acting as an UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador during the trip.
During his meeting with Zelensky, Stiller said, "It's one thing to see this destruction on TV or on social networks. Another thing is to see it all with your own eyes. That's a lot more shocking."
"What you saw in Irpin is definitely dreadful, but it is even worse to just imagine what is happening in the settlements that are still under temporary occupation in the East," Zelensky replied, referring to the relentless Russian drive to occupy the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
Nearly 5 million refugees have fled Ukraine and more than 4,000 civilians have been killed as of June 12, according to United Nations officials.
Zelensky also emphasized the plight of Ukrainians who have been forcibly deported to Russia. Kyiv claimed last month more than 1.3 million Ukrainians, including 223,000 children, had been forcibly deported to Russia.
Stiller arrived in Ukraine after visiting Poland on Sunday, where he also discussed the status of the millions of Ukrainians displaced by the invasion.
"Millions have been forced to flee their homes with over 90% being women and children," he said in an Instagram post from Poland. "I'm here to learn, to share stories that illustrate the human impact of war and to amplify calls for solidarity."