Alan Cumming has teamed up with the UN Refugee Agency to lend a hand to the scores of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria

By Jodi Guglielmi
September 05, 2016 11:20 AM
©UNHCR/Jordi Matas

Alan Cumming‘s Labor Day weekend celebration was a bit different than in years past.

Instead of hitting the beach and barbecuing with friends, the actor touched down in Lebanon on Saturday to get a closer look at the refugee crisis that is affecting both that country and the rest of the world.

The 51-year-old actor has teamed up with the UN Refugee Agency to lend a hand to the scores of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, as well as to research the crisis as a whole in the country that hosts over one million displaced and uprooted individuals.

Alan Cumming
©UNHCR/Jordi Matas

During his two-day long mission, Cumming traveled to northern and southern Lebanon to meet with refugees and listen to first-hand stories of those forced to flee their homes. The actor also visited a local hospital supported by UNHCR that works to provide emergency healthcare to refugees, as well as spent the afternoon with a group of a LGBTI refugees who shared their experiences of discrimination and persecution.

Alan Cumming
©UNHCR/Jordi Matas

“At the end of one of the many unbearably heart-breaking stories of the violence, persecution and humiliation the Syrian refugees have escaped from, I threw my arms around a young woman who had just shared her world with me,” Cumming tells PEOPLE. “Our translator, a young Lebanese girl who was also in tears, asked me how she should translate a hug, so I hugged her too.”

Cumming has been supportive of UNHCR’s #WithRefugee campaign, which calls on world leaders to unite in their response to the global refugee crisis ahead of the Summit on Refugees and Migrants that will take place on Sept. 19 as part of the UN General Assembly in New York.

“This trip has been life- changing,” he also says. “We all have a duty to do more to assist the resettlement and care of these people and to stand #WithRefugees.”

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