Angelina Jolie says the plight of Syrian refugees is ‘shameful’ and ‘tragic’

The actress visited a refugee camp in Lebanon on the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict

 

Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 15 March 2016 22:08
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Ms Jolie said after five years of conflict she had hoped for Syrian families to be able to return home
Ms Jolie said after five years of conflict she had hoped for Syrian families to be able to return home

Angelina Jolie has added her voice to the growing concern surrounding the plight of millions of Syrian refugees who are flooding into Europe, forced from their homes due to the violence of their own government and rebel forces.

The actress, speaking to the press during heavy rain at a refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, said there are 4.8 million Syrian refugees in this region and 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria.

Ms Jolie spoke of her wish to help the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and enable displaced families to return to their homeland.

Ms Jolie has worked with the organisation for years and has been the voice of the desperate struggles of families.

“On this day, the fifth anniversary of the Syria conflict, that is where I’d hoped to be - in Syria, helping the UNHCR with returns and watching families I have come to know to be able to go home,” she said. ”It is tragic and shameful that we seem still so far from that point.”

Ms Jolie stressed the need for “diplomatic solutions” to the crisis and for no refugees to be excluded or discriminated against when it came to receiving help.

“We cannot discuss this as if it were a problem confined to the situations of tens of thousands of refugees in Europe,” she said. ”We cannot improve this reality by partial responses or by responding to some crises and not others, or by helping some refugees and not others, or by excluding Afghan refugees among others or by making a distinction between refugees on the grounds of religion.”

Her comments come in the same week that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has let in one million refugees since the crisis began, suffered a crushing defeat in regional election polls, suggesting that the right-wing and anti-refugee Alternative fur Deutschland party could gain power. Ms Merkel has insisted that Germans look at the long-term bigger picture and has stuck by her pro-refugee policy.

This week more than 1,000 refugees were barred entry into Macedonia as people tried to flee the overcrowded camps in north Greece, and many were forced to cross the river along the border instead. Three people drowned as a result.

Other celebrities have spoken out about the refugee crisis, including actress Susan Sarandon, who visited the Greek island of Lesbos last year. Edward Nortion and UK actors Benedict Cumberbatch and David Morrissey have also spoken out.

According to the UNHCR, more than one million migrants and refugees reached Europe in 2015.

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