Actress, UNHCR Envoy & Mother, Angelina Jolie Gives Failing Grade to International Community

Photo Credit: PHOTO: UNHCR/J. Tanner

Angelina Jolie deplores the immense suffering of both Iraqi citizens internally displaced and the increasing numbers of Syrian refugees on her visit to the Khanke Camp in Iraq. Since her last visit to the area, there are another 2 million people forced from homes. She criticizes the international community for not supplying enough help. The intertwined conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the flood of refugees and displaced has fed a dire humanitarian situation.

Ms. Jolie also met members of the Yazidi minority including elderly women and children who faced horrible suffering at the hands of ISIL which touched an emotional chord for Jolie.

Says Jolie: “It is not enough to defend our values at home. We have to defend them here, in the camps and in the informal settlements across the Middle East, and in the ruined towns of Iraq and Syria. We are being tested here, as an international community, and so far – for all the immense efforts and good intentions – we are failing.”

UN News Centre

The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq is a “shocking” reality that demands the international community’s immediate attention, Oscar-winning actress and United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, urged today as she visited Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqi citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.  The security situation and rising violence has led to 3.3 million people displaced in Iraq who face a brutal winter in sub-standard shelters.

During her visit to Khanke, the Special Envoy met with Iraqi IDPs as well as elderly women who were among the 196 Yazidis recently released by insurgents. The camp is currently hosting more than 20,000 people from the Yazidi minority who fled Sinjar, in Iraq’s Nineveh province, in early August as militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) advanced against Government forces.

“Nothing can prepare you for the horrific stories of these survivors of kidnap, abuse and exploitation and to see how they cannot all get the urgent help they need and deserve,” Ms. Jolie said. “Children whose parents were murdered and are now here unaccompanied – a 19 year old working and being the sole provider for his 7 siblings. I have met mothers whose children have been kidnapped by ISIL. As a parent, I couldn’t imagine a greater horror. They are overwhelmed by thoughts of what is happening to their children.”

According to UNHCR, funding shortfalls have directly affected the scale and type of programmes the agency maintains to help survivors of violence and human rights abuses, including shelter and other assistance. Only 53 per cent of the UN agency’s required $337 million for 2014 Iraq response has been received. In addition, it has received the go-ahead to proceed on projected funding for only 31 per cent of its required $556 million for 2015.

“Too many innocent people are paying the price of the conflict in Syria and spread of extremism,” Ms. Jolie added, as she concluded her visit wrapping up the first day of her two-day visit to Iraq today. “The international community has to step up and do more.”


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