UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie wins award for humanitarian work

The acclaimed actress was recently presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work helping the needy.

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie meets a young Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  © UNHCR/J.Tanner

GENEVA, November 25 (UNHCR) - Acclaimed actress and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie has been presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work on behalf of the forcibly displaced and victims of sexual violence.

She received the award, an Oscar statuette, at the recent Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Governors Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The award is given out every year in recognition of an "individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry."

Since Jolie was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR in 2001, she has travelled to nearly 50 countries to meet refugee families in often remote and dangerous places. She was named UNHCR Special Envoy by High Commissioner António Guterres in 2012, embarking on an expanded advocacy role focusing on complex emergencies such as the Syria situation.

Guterres congratulated Jolie and underlined her dedication and support to UNHCR. "Angelina works tirelessly for refugees. I have seen how much they inspire her as she listens to them for hours on end. Together, we have focused our efforts on very complex refugee situations, most recently the Syria crisis," he said.

"She has spent many days and nights in camps or at border crossings in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. She has met with world leaders and made strong media appeals advocating for more to be done to stop this terrible conflict," Guterres said. "I speak on behalf of the world's refugees to say how grateful we are for her incredible dedication," he added.

Clearly moved by the recognition, Jolie said on the night of the awards: "I have never understood why people are lucky enough to be born with the chances I had and why across the world there is a woman just like me with the same abilities, same desires, same work ethics and love for her family who would most likely make better films and better speeches, only she sits in a refugee camp and she has no voice.

"She worries about what her children will eat, how to keep them safe and if they will ever be allowed to return home. "I don't know why this is my life and not hers, but I will do as my mother asked me to do, the best as I can and be of use to others."

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is named for the Danish actor and translator who was one of Hollywood's most active philanthropists in the 1930s and 1940s. His service to the industry included 18 years as president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.

Angelina Jolie receives the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award