"Britain allowed me in, gave me refuge and opportunity, and never once put a wall in front of me.
Arminka Helić is a Bosnian-born Muslim British politician. She grew up near Tuzla in then Yugoslavia and graduated from the University of Sarajevo in English language and literature. In 1992, when she was 24, an ethnic war broke out in her homeland of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Arminka was separated from her family and eventually found refuge in London. The horrific events she had witnessed and a desire to see her family alive and her country safe motivated her to change her focus in life to politics.
Arminka was accepted into the London School for Economics and Political Science, and worked in an ice cream store to help pay her tuition fees. She received her master's degree in International History 1996 and entered the political arena, joining the Conservative Party.
Arminka built up considerable expertise, going on to serve as Special Adviser to the former Foreign Secretary William Hague from 2010 to 2014. She is considered one of the most impressive foreign policy experts in the British Government and one of the most important persons in the Conservative Party. In 2014, Arminka was nominated to the House of Lords by Prime Minister David Cameron and was created a Life Peer, taking the title Baroness Helic, of Millbank in the City of Westminster.
Through her work to stop sexual violence in wars, Arminka met and befriended UN Special Envoy for Refugees Angelina Jolie, who considers Arminka her mentor. Together, they were instrumental in the creation of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, launched by William Hague. Arminka and Angelina are also involved in the effort to aid the Syrian refugee crisis. 'The responsibility to help is not determined by the accident of geography but by adherence to universal human rights and values,' they wrote in an article. 'It transcends religion, culture and ethnicity. We should not be reaching for the lowest common denominator in our response to the refugee crisis, but striving to live up to our highest ideals.'