It was only two weeks ago that plans began for an enormous charity event in Stockholm to raise money for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Since that time, 60 of Sweden’s greatest artists and entertainers came together to perform Tuesday evening, September 28, at the Ericsson Globe Arena to show support in the ongoing refugee crisis. Forty million kronor was raised and donations are still coming in.

"There are moments that define a generation,” said writer and comedian Jonas Gardell. "How we act in a certain specific situation will determine how history judges us, if our children and grandchildren later look at us and say, 'How could you let that happen?' How we choose to act right now, to refugees who need our help, is such a moment," he said.


The gala, Hela Sverige Skramlar, sold out its 12,000 tickets and all proceeds went to UNHCR. The concert was broadcast live on television, radio and the web with the hope of not only providing outstanding entertainment and raising money for the charity, but also to inform and educate — breaking down negative propaganda and media fear-mongering. It was indeed an evening to raise awareness on racism and xenophobia, and to promote compassion and solidarity.

"I have long hoped to have the opportunity to contribute in a more personal way than through regular contributions. We are making a statement here of solidarity. We do not stand for just money to help fellow human beings in need, we are standing for humanitarianism and solidarity at a time when fears and prejudices must be combated,” said singer Lisa Nilsson.

The evening’s entertainment began at 7 p.m., but it was Hans Rosling, professor of international health — whose impassioned speech explaining the refugee crisis so that all could understand — who brought the Globe arena to full attention. So silent was the audience that one could hear a pin drop as he spoke about Sweden’s responsibility to the world’s refugees.

"I’ll explain the size of the tragedy in Syria," Rosling began. "You guys are 12,000 people in the Globe Arena. Imagine that you are the Syrian population — 24 million. So each of you is 2,000 Syrians."

He went on to explain that half the audience represented the Syrian population that has fled. Eight million are displaced within the country, and four million — the equivalent to the audience on the floor — have gone to other countries. And the audience in the front section are the 300,000 who come to Europe: "It is three percent," Rosling said. He continued to explain that those in the first three rows represent the 80,000 people who have come to Sweden.

"Welcome!" Rosling said to the first three rows, amid cheers from the audience. His presentation ended with a standing ovation and social media erupting with praise for his speech.
"Hans Rosling. Goosebumps. Lump in my throat. That speech may have been the best SVT sent in decades. Thank you.
"One can not but like Hans Rosling. He’s straight on!"
"We have far too little public education a la Hans Rosling – more stuff."
"Hans Rosling, Sweden’s wisest and most important man."

Sweden UNHCR is the UN refugee’s agency partner and works to protect people displaced by persecution and those fleeing war. They work also to secure human rights for all refugees and to raise public awareness about the situation of people forced to flee their homes.

Lisa Mikulski