Angelina Jolie has called for more funds to help refugees in Iraq and Syria after witnessing their suffering during a recent visit to northern Iraq, the special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times. The actress wrote that she was left “speechless” after listening to stories of the region's people.
Jolie wrote of the “suffering and death, and the gaze of hungry, traumatized children” whom she visited in the refugee camp. The 39-year-old actress called on the international community to do more to help countries affected by the crisis in the Middle East, such as Iraq and Syria, as well as assist neighboring nations in taking in more refugees, and added that countries outside the region should help “the most vulnerable refugees,” such as those who have been tortured or raped, to find a home.
“In almost four years of war, nearly half of Syria’s population of 23 million people has been uprooted. Within Iraq itself, more than two million people have fled conflict and the terror unleashed by extremist groups,” Jolie wrote. “These refugees and displaced people have witnessed unspeakable brutality. Their children are out of school, they are struggling to survive, and they are surrounded on all sides by violence.”
She added that Syria’s neighbors have taken in about four million of those displaced in the crisis and that Jordan’s population consists of 10 percent of Syrian refugees, while every fourth person in Lebanon is now a Syrian.
“They need food, shelter, education, health care and work. This means fewer resources available for local people. Far wealthier countries might crack under these pressures,” Jolie said. "At stake are not only the lives of millions of people and the future of the Middle East, but also the credibility of the international system.
"It is not enough to defend our values at home, in our newspapers and in our institutions. We also have to defend them in the refugee camps of the Middle East, and the ruined ghost towns of Syria."