Angelina Jolie Pitt visited the Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley today, not as a Hollywood actress, but as a special envoy for the United Nations’ refugee agency. Jolie, among the refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria, urged world leaders to be compassionate not fearful, and to embrace the refugees rather than just “protecting [their] borders.”
“There are 4.8 million Syrian refugees in this region, and 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria. On this day, the 5th anniversary of the Syria conflict, that is where I had hoped I would be: in Syria, helping UNHCR with returns, and watching families I have come to know, be able to go home,” Angelina Jolie Pitt said to the assembled press and Lebanese people in the Syrian refugee camp.
Angelina Jolie Pitt praised Lebanon for its compassionate care of the Syrian refugees, displaced by the brutal war still raging across their home country, addressing other international agencies and other nations in her speech – she urged other nations to take action as Lebanon has, and to do more for the plight of the Syrian refugees, reports E! Online.
Jolie called out other nations for the role they had in the Syrian Civil War, calling the war “tragic and shameful.” The camp that Jolie visited is home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, and it’s there that she stood among wind and pouring rain to speak with the press about the very real struggle Syrian refugees face at Lebanon and in other nations which have played host to the displaced Syrian refugees.
Angelina Jolie Pitt, speaking as special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, the UNHCR, has visited the Syrian refugees of Lebanon a few times before. During which time Jolie befriended several families, one girl in particular spoke to Angelina today, expressing her desire to return home to Syria – to lay flowers on her mother’s grave.
According to People, Angelina Jolie Pitt sat on the floor with a young girl named Hala, ate with the girl and her family, and colored in coloring books while discussing how the Syrian Civil War had disrupted the young girl’s life back home. Hala’s brother, Nemer, told Jolie that he wants to return to Syria after learning a trade during his time in Lebanon.
“Every Syrian refugee I have spoken to on this visit, without exception, talked of their desire to return home when the war is over and it is safe for them to do so – not with resignation, but with the light in their eyes of people dreaming of being reunited with the country that they love,” Angelina Jolie Pitt said during the press conference today, rain sheeting down her face.
Angelina Jolie Pitt passionately urged other nations, non-governmental organizations, and anyone at all who can help, to reach out and to do more to help the millions of people who have been displaced by the Syrian Civil War. Jolie emphasized that the Syrian refugees don’t want to permanently inhabit another country, they didn’t want to leave their homes, they left in order to protect their lives – they’re not the encroaching immigrants that some in the media have portrayed them to be.
“The number of refugees is now higher than the last time we had a World War. We are at an exceptionally difficult moment when the consequences of the refugee crisis seem to be outstripping our will and capacity – and even our courage – to respond to it,” said Angelina Jolie Pitt, seemingly speaking out of compassion for the refugees and frustration with the international community.
Still, Jolie relented that with the sheer number of refugees on the move today, some nations simply don’t have the resources to lend a hand and even those that do, like Lebanon, can only do so much.
[Photo by AP Photo/Bilal Hussein]