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UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie supports displaced during visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Press Releases, 21 August 2010

SARAJEVO, 21 August 2010 (UNHCR) -UN refugee agency Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has been in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, meeting the country's Presidency and discussing a number of issues, including the plight of the country's displaced people during a one-day visit.

Her visit, a private trip in support of her work in the region, was partly facilitated by UNHCR and was the second this year to Bosnia and Herzegovina following her previous visit in April. On this occasion, Jolie met with the Chair of the Presidency, Haris Silajdžic, and Presidency member Željko Komšic. Presidency member Nebojša Radmanovic was out of the country and could not attend the meeting, however the Goodwill Ambassador did reach out by leaving a personal note with his Office.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets with Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency member Željko Komšić to discuss, among other issues, the plight of displaced people in the country.

During the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost half of the country's population was displaced. Recognising the enormity of the displacement, Jolie stated that "the consequences of such a tragedy cannot be undone, however we have a responsibility to do all in our power to reduce the pain by helping those who need assistance. In doing so, we contribute to overcoming divides and building a better future for all the people of the country".

UNHCR has worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1992, and during the war undertook one of the largest relief operations ever organized. Of the country's remaining 113,000 internally displaced people, some 7,000 are still living in collective accommodation centres created more than 15 years ago and intended only as temporary housing. UNHCR provides support for these people as well as a further 7,000 refugees from Croatia and those members of the country's Roma community who are at risk of statelessness.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie, accompanied by UNHCR Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Naveed Hussain, (left) discusses measures to assist the remaining displaced people in the country with the Chair of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Haris Silajdžić.

Referring to the revised strategy for implementing the section of the Dayton Peace Agreement that deals with the needs of displaced people, Jolie urged steps to translate the strategy into action. "I hope that there'll soon be practical steps to improve these people's lives," she said. "The political leaders have shown a spirit of compromise in getting this far. Now it needs a little more urgency."

Commenting after the meeting, the UNHCR Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Naveed Hussain, stated that the Goodwill Ambassador's latest visit was part of UNHCR's continuing commitment to ending displacement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and followed other high-level visits to the country over the last year, including Jolie's previous mission in April and a visit by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres.

Jolie stated her happiness at being back in the country and that she looks forward to returning to the region over the coming months to continue her work.




UNHCR country pages

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.

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