UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie Calls for Help


Oct. 2 2009, Published 10:25 a.m. ET

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie is continuing her mission to help those in need, urging the world to remember Iraqi refugees. According to a statement from the UNHCR, on Friday Angelina called on the international community to remember the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who are still in exile.

After returning to visit Iraqi refugees in poor suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus, Angelina said they still need help and support.

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"Most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the certainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will, therefore, be in need of continued support from the international community," she pleaded.

Angelina traveled with Brad Pitt and both were welcomed into the homes of two Iraqi families. One family of seven fled to Syria in 2006 and the other family, members of a minority religious group, fled this year.

The second family shared their story to Angelina about how the mother and son were abducted and abused twice.

"I'm grateful to you for sharing this story," Angelina said while holding the mother's hand. "It helps to make it easier to understand your problems. There's a lot of suffering in this part of the world; you're a very brave and strong woman for putting this behind you for the sake of your children."

Angelina Jolie
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The other family of seven told Angelina of their struggles to pay rent and the father's kidnapping and torture.

Angelina said the families "Have not recovered from the trauma they faced and until other solutions are found, or these refugees are able to go home, it is essential that the international community help UNHCR to provide financial and food support so they can survive. They don't have the right to work, so they have no way of surviving without our help."

Both families rely on the UNHCR for food and support and hope to be resettled.

While Jolie was on her trip she also met with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma al-Assad, who spoke to her about Syria's efforts in helping refugee children attend school and provide health care to those who most need it.

After meeting them Angelina said, "It is clear that the Syrian people, no matter the challenged or difficulties they may face, have always shown generous hospitality to people in need. I hope that the rest of the world recognizes that we all have to share this burden and continue to take care of Iraqi refugees."


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