Angelina Jolie responds to UNHCR emergency appeal

Press Releases, 27 September 2001

GENEVA UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie today became the first individual donor to respond to the refugee agency's emergency appeal for more than $250 million to meet the enormous humanitarian needs in and around Afghanistan.

The American actress told UNHCR that she will contribute $1 million to help Afghan refugees in neighbouring asylum states such as Pakistan and Iran, which already host more than 3.5 million refugees between them. During the past year, Ms. Jolie has also contributed to UNHCR programmes for refugees in Africa and Asia.

Ms. Jolie visited Pakistan in August to meet refugees and get a first-hand look at UNHCR's work and programmes on behalf of the 2 million Afghans already seeking refuge there. Having seen the dire plight of these refugees, she feels a particular concern for their situation in the looming humanitarian emergency now confronting the region.

High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers thanked Ms. Jolie for her support: "This significant contribution from a concerned young American reinforces my belief that, despite the trauma of recent events in her country, a strong sense of humanitarian responsibility toward innocent civilians suffering in far-off places continues to animate the spirit of caring individuals everywhere," Mr. Lubbers said.

"The generosity of our Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, has encouraged all of us in the midst of an immense and complex emergency operation. We hope that others will follow her example and help us continue to protect the lives of the thousands of families fleeing their homes in Afghanistan," concluded the High Commissioner.

Ms. Jolie's Journal about her August visit to Pakistan will soon be published on the USA for UNHCR website (www.usaforunhcr.org).

Facing a humanitarian crisis of perhaps unprecedented magnitude, UNHCR's $268 million emergency appeal covers the needs for six months of a possible influx of up to 1 million refugees into Pakistan; 400,000 into Iran; 50,000 into Tajikistan; and 50,000 into Turkmenistan. The agency is also doing additional contingency planning to supply aid to 500,000 people inside Afghanistan, if the necessity arises.

The contingency plan involves a massive relief effort which includes the construction and maintenance of refugee camps and the delivery of more than 80,000 tents, hundreds of thousands of health and hygiene kits and a huge amount of other relief items. Much of it would have to be airlifted to Pakistan and Iran. UNHCR said it could deploy up to 700 international and local staff to deal with the looming crisis, in addition to more than 500 staff already working in countries neighbouring Afghanistan.

UNHCR, which has won two Nobel Peace Prizes over the past 50 years, cares for some 22 million refugees and other uprooted people in more than 100 countries.