Angelina Jolie has marked World Refugee Day on Thursday by calling on global leaders to work harder to bring an end to the Syrian civil war, branding it the “worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century”.
The Wanted actress travelled to Jordan earlier this week to meet with those displaced by the ongoing violent conflict in neighbouring Syria, and on Thursday she held a press conference in her role as a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to urge leading politicians and diplomats to find a suitable solution to the war.
Speaking at the Zaatari camp, Jordan’s largest location for fleeing Syrians, she said, “I appeal to the world leaders – please, set aside your differences, unite to end the violence, and make diplomacy succeed…
“By the end of this year, half of Syria’s population – 10 million people – will be in desperate need of food, shelter and assistance… The lives of millions of people are in your hands. You must find common ground.”
Jolie also used the opportunity to address a popular misconception about refugees, insisting, “They are regarded as a burden, as helpless individuals, or as people who wish to move to someone else’s country. That is not who they are. (Refugees are the ones) who will one day rebuild their countries, and a more peaceful world for us all.”
And, in an accompanying statement issued by the U.N., Jolie adds, “The worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century is unfolding in the Middle East today… The international response to this crisis falls short of the vast scale of this human tragedy.”
According to figures released by U.N. officials, more than 1.6 million people have fled Syria to seek refuge in surrounding countries since the start of the civil uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March, 2011, and over 93,000 have been killed in the conflict so far.
Jolie’s journey to the Middle East is her first humanitarian trip since announcing the news of her double mastectomy last month.
British comedian Eddie Izzard has turned journalist to film a disturbing report on the Syria crisis.
The Valkyrie actor is a longtime supporter of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and he teamed up with the organization to visit the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq to record a piece for Sky News.
In the film, Izzard highlights the plight of children and their families left homeless as a result of Syria’s civil war, which has been raging since 2011.
He explains, “I had heard about horrific conditions facing children in Syria and in neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon, but the hardship faced by Syrian refugees in Iraq is an untold story. Every Syrian child has been touched by this conflict… The number of refugees pouring into Iraq from Syria has tripled over the past six months.
“For those who managed to escape Syria, life as a refugee remains incredibly difficult… Children are struggling to get access to clean water and vital schooling.”
Izzard has urged fans to donate to the organization, adding, “UNICEF has around only a third of the money it needs this year to get aid to children… who need it and desperately requires more funds to carry out its vital work. If we don’t act now, Syria’s children are at risk of becoming a lost generation.”