Statement for World Refugee Day 2013 - UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie

Press Releases, 20 June 2013

The Syrian crisis here in Jordan and across the region is the most acute humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world today.

1.6 million people have poured out of Syria with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and more are arriving every minute.

More than half are children.

They have left behind a country in which millions of people are displaced, suffering hunger, deprivation and fear; where countless women and girls have endured rape and sexual violence; where a whole generation of children are out of school; and where at least 93,000 people have been killed: the friends, neighbors, fathers, mothers and children of people in this camp today.

I want to thank the people of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees in their homes and communities. Their generosity is lifesaving. But they cannot do it alone. Appeals must be met and support given. The over-burdening of these countries' economies is the greatest risk to their stability.

I pray all parties in the Syrian conflict will stop targeting civilians and allow access for humanitarian aid.

And I appeal to the world leaders please, set aside your differences, unite to end the violence, and make diplomacy succeed. The UN Security Council must live up to its responsibilities. Every 14 seconds someone crosses Syria's border and becomes a refugee. And by the end of this year half of Syria's population ten million people will be in desperate need of food, shelter and assistance. The lives of millions of people are in your hands. You must find common ground.

On this day, World Refugee Day, I would like to say a word about the more than 15 million people who live as refugees worldwide.

Refugees are often forgotten, and frequently misunderstood. They are regarded as a burden, as helpless individuals, or as people who wish to move to someone else's country. That is not who they are.

I have met refugees around the world. They are resilient, hardworking and gracious people. They have experienced more violence and faced more fear than we will ever know. They have lost their homes, their belongings and their countries. They have often lost family and friends to horrific deaths. Faced with war and oppression they have chosen not to take up arms, but to try to find safety for their families. They deserve our respect, our acknowledgment and our support not just today but for the duration of their ordeal.

By helping refugees, here in Zaatari camp and across the globe, we are investing in people who will one day rebuild their countries, and a more peaceful world for us all. So on this day, I honor them, and I am privileged to be with them."