Angelina Jolie has penned a passionate report about her recent trip to meet with Syrian war refugees in Iraq, confessing the visit left her “speechless” after seeing the suffering among displaced citizens.
The actress and activist was in the Middle East as a special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Sunday, meeting with hundreds of families in a Kurdish refugee camp in the northern Iraq city of Dohuk.
During a press conference at the camp, she appealed for urgent funding to aid more than three million refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria, and on Tuesday, she continued her mission to help the refugees by penning an article for The New York Times.
She wrote, “I have visited Iraq five times since 2007, and I have seen nothing like the suffering I’m witnessing now. For many years I have visited camps, and every time, I sit in a tent and hear stories. I try my best to give support. To say something that will show solidarity and give some kind of thoughtful guidance. On this trip I was speechless.
“What do you say to the 13-year-old girl who describes the warehouses where she and the others lived and would be pulled out, three at a time, to be raped by the men?. When her brother found out, he killed himself.”
She continued, “How can you speak when a woman your own age looks you in the eye and tells you that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she now lives alone in a tent and has minimal food rations?”, noting that boarding countries have taken in “nearly four million Syrian refugees, but they are reaching their limits.”
Jolie continued to plea for the international community to take action, and added, “What does it say about our commitment to human rights and accountability that we seem to tolerate crimes against humanity happening in Syria and Iraq on a daily basis?
“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.”