Angelina Jolie highlights humanitarian crisis during Syria and Iraq visits

News Stories, 28 August 2007

© UNHCR/M.Bernard
Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie talks with refugees in a children's play area at the UNHCR registration centre in Damascus.

DAMASCUS, Syria, August 28 (UNHCR) UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has visited Iraq and Syria to see first-hand the plight of hundreds of thousands of families uprooted by the conflict in Iraq.

The UN refugee agency estimates more than 4. 2 million Iraqis have left their homes 2 million to neighbouring states and another 2.2 million displaced inside Iraq.

Yesterday in Damascus, Jolie visited a UNHCR registration centre and spent hours talking to Iraqi refugees in their homes. Today, she crossed into Iraq to visit 1,200 refugees trapped in a makeshift camp at the border, unable to flee Iraq, and later watched scores of Iraqis crossing into Syria at a border checkpoint.

As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Jolie said she would leave politics to others while focusing on the region's huge humanitarian needs.

"I have come to Syria and Iraq to help draw attention to this humanitarian crisis and to urge governments to increase their support for UNHCR and its partners," Jolie said. "My sole purpose in both countries is to highlight the humanitarian plight of those uprooted by the war in Iraq."

After talking with some of the stranded refugees at Iraq's Al Waleed camp on Tuesday, Jolie said: "it is absolutely essential that the ongoing debate about Iraq's future includes plans for addressing the enormous humanitarian consequences these people face."

While in Iraq, she separated from UNHCR to visit privately with US troops and other Multi-National Forces based in the area.

Jolie arrived in Syria on Monday. In Damascus, she met some of the thousands of Iraqi refugees registering with UNHCR, nearly one-quarter of whom are victims of violence and torture. Tens of thousands are without jobs, and many young people are in danger of losing out on an education and a future. She recognized Syria for its open borders and generosity to Iraqis.

In late July, UNHCR and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a joint US$129 million education appeal aimed at getting 155,000 young Iraqi refugees throughout the Middle East back into school. The United States announced Tuesday that it will contribute US$30 million to the appeal.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

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.

George Dalaras and UNHCR

Read about Dalaras's long link with UNHCR.

Muazzez Ersoy and UNHCR

Learn about Muazzez Ersoy's links with UNHCR.

Related Internet Links

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

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 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 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

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehousePlay video

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehouse

An Iraqi man who turned down resettlement to the U.S. in 2006 tells how it feels now to be a "refugee" in his own country, in limbo, hoping to restart life in another Iraqi city.
Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat campPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat camp

Concluding a visit to Iraq, UNHCR chief António Guterres met with Syrian refugees in Arbat camp in the Kurdistan region. Guterres noted the recent proliferation of humanitarian crises, but urged the international community not to forget about Syria, "the mega protracted crisis of our times."
Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced IraqisPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced Iraqis

This week UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is visiting Iraq to meet with families displaced by conflict in recent weeks. After listening to accounts of their difficult journeys to safety, Guterres called for more support to help deal with the crisis. He will also visit some of the 300,000 Syrian refugees currently living in camps in northern Iraq.