Khaled Hosseini, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

Khaled hosseini


Best-selling author Khaled Hosseini has formed a special link with the UNHCR office in the United States, which he represented as a UNHCR Goodwill Envoy until 2013, when he was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. As a valued supporter of UNHCR, he has visited his native Afghanistan in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and Chad in 2007. He visited UNHCR operations in the two countries and helped to spread awareness about displacement issues there, including the situation for returnees. Hosseini also contributes to the annual World Refugee Day commemorations, other flagship events such as the Nansen Refugee Award, and global awareness and fund-raising campaigns.

During his 2007 trip to Afghanistan, Hosseini visited villages in the north and spoke to refugee returnees and saw the work of UNHCR in providing assistance. Inspired by what he had experienced, he set up The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to provide humanitarian assistance. Since then, his foundation has raised funds and constructed homes for thousands of returnees. The foundation also supports UNHCR projects which provide employment and education opportunities and health care for women and children. It awards scholarships to women pursuing higher education in Afghanistan or training to become doctors in their country.

Learn more about the Afghan Refugee Emergency.

As a Goodwill Ambassador, Hosseini serves as a public advocate for refugees, regularly using his access to the media to give voice to victims of humanitarian crises. He also continues to advocate and raise awareness of refugee issues and UNHCR's operations via his multiple online and social media platforms.



"When UNHCR asked me to work with them as a Goodwill Ambassador, I didn't think twice. As a native of Afghanistan, a country with one of the world's largest refugee populations, the refugee issue is one that is close and dear to my heart.

"My role with the UNHCR is to speak on behalf of the refugee cause and to serve as a public advocate for refugees around the world. It will be my privilege to try to capture public attention and to use my access to media to give voice to victims of humanitarian crises. I look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration with UNHCR."

— Khaled Hosseini


About the Khaled Hosseini Foundation:

The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The Foundation supports UNHCR projects which provide shelter to refugee families and economic and education opportunities and healthcare for women and children. In addition, the Foundation awards scholarships to students who have migrated to the United States under refugee status and to women pursuing higher education in Afghanistan.


About Khaled Hosseini

Acclaimed American author Khaled Hosseini knows what it's like to be a refugee. He was a teenager living in Paris, where his father worked as an Afghan diplomat, when the Soviet Union invaded his homeland on Christmas Eve 1979. The Hosseinis sought and were granted political asylum in the United States. In September of 1980, the Hosseini family moved to San Jose, California. Khaled graduated from high school in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California at San Diego's School of Medicine, where he earned a Medical Degree in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Khaled was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.

Khaled Hosseini, UNHCR Goodwill Envoy

Khaled Hosseini, UNHCR Goodwill Envoy. © UNHCR

While practicing medicine, Khaled began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner, in March of 2001. In 2003, The Kite Runner was published and has since become an international bestseller, published in 70 countries. In 2006, he was named a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, was published in May of 2007 and has been published in 60 countries.

Hosseini's third novel, "And the Mountains Echoed," was published in 2013. It tells of the relationship between Abdullah, aged 10, and his three-year-old sister, Pari, and their father's decision to sell her to a childless couple in Kabul, an event that ties the various narratives together. The book takes readers to the refugee camps in Pakistan and portrays some of the challenges facing refugee returnees to Afghanistan.

Khaled has been working to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan through The Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The concept for The Khaled Hosseini Foundation was inspired by a trip to Afghanistan Khaled made in 2007 with the UNHCR. Khaled returned to Afghanistan with UNHCR in 2009. Going back with the refugee agency, he said he felt like a tourist and admitted to sometimes suffering from survivor's guilt for having been able to leave the country before the descent into chaos. But the trip was a very valuable one for him.

He lives in northern California with his wife and two children.