Angelina Jolie spreads goodwill in Namibia

News Stories, 1 May 2002

© UNHCR/J-B.Mollard
Angelina Jolie gets to know the refugees at the Osire camp in Windhoek, Namibia.

WINDHOEK, Namibia (UNHCR) Goodwill is in the air at Namibia's Osire refugee camp. Between late March and mid-April this year, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited and donated food, tents and sports equipment to the nearly 24,000 refugees there.

On March 23, Jolie joined the High Commissioner's Representative in Namibia, Hesdy Rathling, at Osire camp while working on her new movie, "Beyond Borders," in the country.

Osire camp, established in 1998, is home to mostly Angolan refugees. There, the Goodwill Ambassador met new arrivals, family groups, leaders of the women's refugee organisation and nurses who briefed her on the running of the camp clinic.

After hearing about the enthusiastic sports teams at the camp, Jolie brought hundreds of volleyballs, basketballs, footballs and nets to be distributed to the refugees. This was in line with the discussion she held with High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers on the value of sports activities as a means of maintaining health and morale (Olympic Aid Roundtable, February 9, Salt Lake City).

Returning from her day with the refugees at Osire camp, Jolie said, "These people have amazing spirit and determination. I want to come back and spend more time with them."

© UNHCR/J.-B.Mollard
A private moment with some young friends.

On April 13, Jolie and her production team donated 270 tents and several hundred items of bedding and mattresses to Osire camp. They also contributed 13.5 tons of food supplies including corn meal, wheat, sugar, salt and beans.

In addition, the Goodwill Ambassador made a generous personal contribution to UNHCR for projects benefiting refugees in Osire camp. These included education materials and support for the Women's Centre. She told Rathling she will follow closely events which may allow a safe and peaceful return home for the Angolan refugees she now considers her friends.

© F.Duhamel
Jolie with Hesdy Rathling (left), the High Commissioner's Representative in Namibia.

Before leaving Namibia, Jolie also worked with the UNHCR video team to complete her narration of an updated version of "We Were There," a 27-minute documentary offering a historical perspective of UNHCR's work over the past 50 years.

She appears in the documentary alongside High Commissioner Lubbers, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Olara Otunnu, Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and Rigoberta Menchu, as well as several former High Commissioners.

The documentary will be launched for global TV broadcast on World Refugee Day on June 20.