Statement by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie on the passing of the 1000th day of the Syrian conflict

Press Releases, 11 December 2013

Each of the last thousand days has been a living nightmare for the Syrian people.

With so much of the country difficult for aid workers and journalists to access and a quarter of a million people stranded in besieged areas, the full story of those 1,000 days has yet to be told. But we do know that over 100,000 Syrians have died. At a minimum, that is equivalent to 100 people being killed each day for 1,000 days. We will look back with shame on this period, and be haunted by our collective failure to prevent this killing of innocents.

This shocking milestone should spur everyone involved in the Geneva peace conference in January to make it a genuine turning point in the conflict: To end the violence and ensure full humanitarian access for Syria's starving and beleaguered people.

With each passing day life gets harder for the millions of Syrian refugees, half of them children. I hope people and governments around the world will feel compassion and a sense of responsibility for them, and provide the increase in aid that is desperately needed.

We cannot turn back the clock for the Syrian people. But we have it in our power, as an international community, to prevent another 1,000 days of bloodshed and suffering.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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