Angelina Jolie calls for continued support to populations fleeing Libya and humanitarian access to those inside

Press Releases, 5 April 2011

RAS ADJIR, Tunisia The UN refugee agencys Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie travelled on Tuesday morning to the Tunisian-Libyan border to urge greater international support for people fleeing Libya.

More than 400,000 people have escaped the violence in Libya in the last month, arriving in surrounding countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, Chad and Sudan. Tunisia alone has received more than half of the outflow from Libya and has mobilized an outstanding relief operation.

The outpouring of generosity from the Tunisian people says so much for the future of this country, said UNHCRs Goodwill Ambassador. It is a sign of the openness sweeping across the region.

At the end of February, transit facilities were erected 7 km inside Tunisia to provide temporary shelter. At the same time, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration began helping migrants home with a humanitarian air evacuation. Today, over 70,000 people have reached home safely with help from UNHCR and IOM, but more continue to arrive. Some 11,000 third country nationals are still in transit.

The international community has done well to reinforce Tunisias remarkable relief effort, said Jolie. But with 2,000 people still crossing each day, we cannot let the funding dry up and need to sustain the momentum.

During the visit, an important contribution is being made by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation to help sustain the humanitarian evacuations being carried out. The Foundation covered the costs for a flight of 177 persons to return to their countries of origin and purchased an ambulance to help support Tunisian efforts on the border to assist the injured arriving from Libya.

We would encourage others, individuals and governments, to continue to support and assist with the needs on the ground, said Jolie.

While migrants make up the majority of these new arrivals, there are also some 2,500 people from war-torn countries who are unable to return home and thus require international protection.

Theyre waiting here with little hope, unable to return home and unsure of whats to come. This constant cycle of displacement must finally come to an end, said Jolie.

In conversations on Tuesday with people who had recently left Libya, UNHCRs Goodwill Ambassador was told of heavy fighting inside the country. She listened to harrowing stories of checkpoints, harassment and assaults. She appealed for measures that would allow the UN and non-governmental organizations to access Libya, and to distribute urgent assistance, including food and medical supplies.

Jolie also heard dramatic accounts of eastern and sub-Saharan Africans being deliberately targeted inside Libya. Many remain in hiding in desperate conditions, unable to move for fear of violence. Jolie called for a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the safe access of these populations to points of refuge.

Without this corridor, thousands of eastern and sub-Saharan Africans are escaping Libya by sea, relying on unseaworthy vessels organized by smugglers. In recent weeks, there have been several landings on the small Italian island of Lampedusa as well as interceptions off the coast of Tunisia. There are also reports of some people not surviving the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.




UNHCR country pages

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Angelina Jolie returns to Iraq, urges support for the displaced

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to Iraq in July 2009 to offer support to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced within their own country.

During her day-long visit to Baghdad, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited a makeshift settlement for internally displaced people in north-west Baghdad where she met families displaced from the district of Abu Ghraib, located to the west of Baghdad, and from the western suburbs of the capital.

Despite the difficulties in Iraq, Jolie said this was a moment of opportunity for Iraqis to rebuild their lives. "This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives."

UNHCR estimates that 1.6 million Iraqis were internally displaced by a wave of sectarian warfare that erupted in February 2006 after the bombing of a mosque in the ancient city of Samarra. Almost 300,000 people have returned to their homes amid a general improvement in the security situation since mid-2008.

Angelina Jolie returns to Iraq, urges support for the displaced

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined UNHCR chief António Guterres on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where they met with boat people who have fled unrest in North Africa.

More than 40,000 people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have crossed the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats and descended on the small island since the beginning of the year.

The UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador flew to Lampedusa from Malta, which has also been a destination for people fleeing North Africa by boat.

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Angelina Jolie in Bosnia

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie met with forcibly displaced people on April 5, 2010 during her first visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, called for steps to end the continued suffering of these victims of the Bosnian War after hearing their harrowing tales and seeing their grim living conditions.

Jolie was clearly moved by the spirit - and the ordeal - of the people she met and she pledged to highlight their case. Most of the people she talked to have been living in exile since the end of the 1992-1995 conflict. Jolie visited collective centres in the towns of Gorazde and Rogatica, where the inhabitants lack basic services such as running water.

The actress spent some time with a group of women who were raped or tortured during the war. Their tales left a deep impression on her. She also met a family of refugee returnees who were still waiting to move into their village home near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.

Angelina Jolie in Bosnia

One Year On: Angelina Jolie-Pitt Revisits Syrian Refugee FamilyPlay video

One Year On: Angelina Jolie-Pitt Revisits Syrian Refugee Family

In June 2015, the UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie-Pitt made a return visit to Lebanon to see Hala, a feisty 11-year-old girl she met a year ago and one of 4 million Syrian refugees. Jolie-Pitt introduced her daughter Shiloh to the Syrian family.
Turkey: World Refugee Day visitsPlay video

Turkey: World Refugee Day visits

On World Refugee Day the UNHCR High Commissioner, António Guterres, along with Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, travelled to southeastern Turkey, the home of hundreds of thousands of refugees from conflicts in Syria and Iraq. They were in the midyat refugee camp to see conditions for these people and to issue a warning to the world.
Iraq: Angelina Jolie Visits Displaced IraqisPlay video

Iraq: Angelina Jolie Visits Displaced Iraqis

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie recently visited internally displaced Iraqis living in an informal settlement and a formal camp at Khanke, near Dohuk. There, she heard dramatic stories of escape from the more than 20,000 Yazidis who fled Sinjar and surrounding areas last August.