Goodwill Ambassadors visit refugees in Egypt; discuss more joint initiatives

News Stories, 29 December 2003

© UNHCR/A.Alkorey
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors Angelina Jolie and Adel Imam with Sudanese refugees in Kilo Arbaa We Nus, Egypt.

CAIRO, Dec 29 (UNHCR) UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors Angelina Jolie and Adel Imam are discussing plans to work together to raise awareness of refugees in the Middle East after visiting Sudanese refugees near the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

During their weekend visit to Kilo Arbaa We Nus on the outskirts of Cairo, the Goodwill Ambassadors distributed winter clothes, blankets and toys to Sudanese refugees living there. Jolie also donated $20,000 to a community health project in the area.

"In keeping with its long-standing tradition of hospitality, Egypt has always kept the doors open to refugees," said Jolie, commending the government for hosting 25,000 refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR, as well as some 70,000 Palestinian refugees under the government's protection.

She added, "Refugees are not just beneficiaries of assistance but, if given the chance, they are also contributing members of the host society. This, I have seen in many different refugee situations."

Imam, known for his stout defence of refugees' rights, stressed, "We must move towards permanent solutions for refugees in the region, and the increased engagement of civil society in our countries is fundamental to that. During our meeting, Angelina and I talked about the possibility of similar joint initiatives in the region, for instance, a visit to refugee camps in Yemen. She agreed it would be a useful awareness-raising measure, so we hope to be able to do that in the near future."

At the end of the visit, UNHCR Regional Representative Ana Liria-Franch praised the insight of the Goodwill Ambassadors: "I am deeply moved by these two extraordinary people. They have demonstrated in their visit today to Kilo Arbaa We Nus precisely the type of passion, dedication and commitment required to achieve palpable improvements to the lives of refugees and their often impoverished hosts. It is profoundly reassuring to have artists of their calibre bringing attention to refugees' search for solutions."