Jolie laments children's plight in Darfur, calls for more security

News Stories, 27 October 2004

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie with internally displaced children in Margasa village, West Darfur. Before clothes and food, they asked for security, said Jolie.

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Oct 27 (UNHCR) The need for security and access to displaced people's home villages were the key concerns raised by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie as she ended a three-day visit to Sudan's strife-torn West Darfur province today.

The Goodwill Ambassador started her mission to West Darfur on Monday, visiting camps to see first-hand the situation of tens of thousands of internally displaced people. She returned to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to share her observations in a press conference on Wednesday.

Jolie recounted stories of village raids and rapes, including the gang rape last week of a 12-year-old girl and her mother. "These events are recent and horrifying. And they show that there is still instability," she lamented.

"I met with many children who have been trapped in the middle of this conflict. They were wearing clothes full of holes, that were falling off. They have no access to school or medical attention," she added. "But when asked what they need, before food and clothes, they said security first. The fact is no place is 100 percent safe."

Jolie noted that UNHCR's focus in West Darfur is to look at conditions in the villages and places of origin, and to assess the needs of the people and possibilities for returns. "Obviously returns are something this government would like to see happen. But from the sense I got from the people and from my observations during this visit, it is clearly not right now. When it is time for return, it is important that it be done in safety and dignity," she stressed.

While in the field, Jolie witnessed the close cooperation between UNHCR and other UN agencies and non-governmental organisations.

"I spent a lot of time with INTERSOS, and they are doing amazing work," she said. "I met with one of the officers working with the African Union. He helped me to understand the very unique collaboration that is the AU. Mainly it is Africa helping Africa and that is a great thing."

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie talking to displaced young girls about the vulnerable situation of women and girls in Darfur near the women's centre in Ardamata camp.

She emphasised however, that much more needs to be done to support the UN and NGOs on the ground. "The main challenge is access to populations, infrastructure, security. UNHCR must have access to places of origin so they can do their work properly," she said. "Improving the situation in West Darfur and providing effective protection and assistance to internally displaced persons are only possible when agencies such as UNHCR are properly funded."

There are an estimated 1.6 million internally displaced persons in the three provinces of the Darfur region. Another 200,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad, where most of them are hosted in 11 UNHCR camps, some of which Jolie visited in June this year.

UNHCR's current budget for eastern Chad and Darfur totals $115 million through the end of this year. The agency is re-assessing its needs in view of its expanded role in West Darfur.




UNHCR country pages

Barbara Hendricks and UNHCR

Hendricks' activities for refugees since 1986.

Barbara Hendricks Biography

Read about Hendricks' life and career.

Muazzez Ersoy Biography

A Turkish singing delight.

George Dalaras Biography

A star among the pantheon of stars.


Almost half the people of concern to UNHCR are children. They need special care.

George Dalaras and UNHCR

Read about Dalaras's long link with UNHCR.

Muazzez Ersoy and UNHCR

Learn about Muazzez Ersoy's links with UNHCR.

Refworld – Children

Refworld – Children

This Special Feature on Child Protection is a comprehensive source of relevant legal and policy documents, practical tools and links to related websites.


Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined UNHCR chief António Guterres on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where they met with boat people who have fled unrest in North Africa.

More than 40,000 people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have crossed the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats and descended on the small island since the beginning of the year.

The UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador flew to Lampedusa from Malta, which has also been a destination for people fleeing North Africa by boat.

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Angelina Jolie returns to Iraq, urges support for the displaced

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to Iraq in July 2009 to offer support to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced within their own country.

During her day-long visit to Baghdad, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited a makeshift settlement for internally displaced people in north-west Baghdad where she met families displaced from the district of Abu Ghraib, located to the west of Baghdad, and from the western suburbs of the capital.

Despite the difficulties in Iraq, Jolie said this was a moment of opportunity for Iraqis to rebuild their lives. "This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives."

UNHCR estimates that 1.6 million Iraqis were internally displaced by a wave of sectarian warfare that erupted in February 2006 after the bombing of a mosque in the ancient city of Samarra. Almost 300,000 people have returned to their homes amid a general improvement in the security situation since mid-2008.

Angelina Jolie returns to Iraq, urges support for the displaced

Angelina Jolie in Bosnia

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie met with forcibly displaced people on April 5, 2010 during her first visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, called for steps to end the continued suffering of these victims of the Bosnian War after hearing their harrowing tales and seeing their grim living conditions.

Jolie was clearly moved by the spirit - and the ordeal - of the people she met and she pledged to highlight their case. Most of the people she talked to have been living in exile since the end of the 1992-1995 conflict. Jolie visited collective centres in the towns of Gorazde and Rogatica, where the inhabitants lack basic services such as running water.

The actress spent some time with a group of women who were raped or tortured during the war. Their tales left a deep impression on her. She also met a family of refugee returnees who were still waiting to move into their village home near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.

Angelina Jolie in Bosnia

Nigeria: Back to schoolPlay video

Nigeria: Back to school

When gun-toting Boko Haram insurgents attacked villages in north-eastern Nigeria, thousands of children fled to safety. They now have years of lessons to catch up on as they return to schools, some of which now double as camps for internally displaced people or remain scarred by bullets.
Lebanon - Homeschooling in a tentPlay video

Lebanon - Homeschooling in a tent

With 400,000 school-age Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, only around half can find space in classrooms. Seeking to step into the gap and provide children with an education, Syrian refugee and former teacher Fatima has transformed her tent into a school​
Slovenia: Refugees sleep out in the coldPlay video

Slovenia: Refugees sleep out in the cold

Thousands of refugees, many parents with children fleeing fighting in Syria, spent a night sleeping out in the open between a cornfield and a railroad track just inside Slovenia's border with Croatia. Many more are expected to follow in their tracks as winter approaches.