People are currently talking about Angelina Jolie‘s statement about her divorce with Brad Pitt in a recent interview. Almost no one, however, is talking about what she said about refugees in the same interview.
“I see all people as equal,” Jolie recently told Vogue India. “I see the abuse and suffering and I cannot stand by. Around the world, people are fleeing gas attacks, rape, female genital mutilation, beatings, persecution, murder.”
“They do not flee to improve their lives; they flee because they cannot survive otherwise,” Jolie said of refugees. “What I really want is to see an end to what forces people out of their homelands. I want to see prevention when we can, protection when needed and accountability when crimes are committed.”
Refugees flee their respective homes and countries due to “a well-founded fear of persecution” because of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion,” according to the United Nations. The world will celebrate the World Refugee Day on June 20, 2020.
On December 14, 1950, the U.N. formed United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is part of the agency’s mandate to protect refugees.
Filming “Lara Croft: Tomb Raid” in Cambodia changed Jolie’s life forever. For the first time in her life, she became an eyewitness to the effects of a humanitarian crisis.
Directed by Simon West, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raid” was released in the United States on June 15, 2001. The film also starred Iain Glen, Daniel Craig, Noah Taylor, Richard Johnson, Chris Barrie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Leslie Phillips, Olegar Fedoro, Henry Wyndham and Jolie’s father Jon Voight.
When Jolie returned home to the U.S. from Cambodia, she contacted the UNHCR and asked for information on international trouble spots. In February 2001, she spent 18 days visiting refugee camps in Sierra Leone and Tanzania.
In August 2001, Jolie went to Pakistan to meet with refugees from Afghanistan. Responding to an international UNHCR emergency appeal, she donated $1 million, the largest donation the agency had ever received from a private individual.
On August 27, 2001, Jolie was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in Geneva. In June 2002, she spent four days in Ecuador to meet with refugees from Colombia.
“Notes from My Travels,” a book published in 2003, detailed Jolie’s visits to Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan and Ecuador. She donated her proceeds from the book to the UNHCR.