UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie calls Syrian crisis ‘tragic and shameful’


Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Angelina Jolie Pitt during a visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon on Tuesday, the fifth anniversary of the Syrian crisis, called the situation “tragic and shameful”, and lamented that a solution still seemed to be a distant possibility, said a UNHCR statement.

There are 4.8 million Syrian refugees in the region, and 6.5m displaced inside Syria, she said, adding: “I have seen on this visit just how desperate the struggle to survive is now for these families after five years in exile. Any savings they had have been exhausted. Many who started out living in apartments now cluster in abandoned shopping centres or informal settlements, sinking deeper and deeper into debt.”

“We are at an exceptionally difficult moment internationally, when the consequences of the refugee crisis seem to be outstripping our will and capacity and even our courage to respond to it,” she said.

Jolie Pitt emphasised the need for diplomacy and diplomatic solutions instead of aid relief. “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 among refugees on the grounds of religion.”

Addressing world leaders, the actress said leadership is about doing more than “simply protecting your borders or putting forward more aid”.

“My plea today is that we need governments around the world to show leadership, to analyse the situation, to understand exactly what their countries can do, how many refugees they can assist and how.”