Angelina Jolie visits UNHCR for briefings on earthquake operation and other refugee issues

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has left for Pakistan to lend support to the agency's refugee programme and its emergency operations for the victims of the recent earthquake, after completing an intensive two days of briefings on a variety of refugee-related issues at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joking with Afghan children in a refugee camp in Peshawar, during her last visit to Pakistan in May 2005.   © UNHCR/J.Redden

GENEVA, November 24 (UNHCR) - Angelina Jolie wrapped up an intensive two days of briefings on a variety of refugee-related issues at the UN refugee agency's headquarters in Geneva late on Wednesday, before heading off to Pakistan to lend support to the agency's emergency operations for the victims of the recent earthquake, and its 25-year-old Afghan refugee programme.

This will be the Oscar-winning actress's third visit to Pakistan since becoming UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador in August 2001. While in Pakistan, she will meet with the the agency's chief, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, who is in the middle of a six-day mission to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

Angelina Jolie generally visits the agency's headquarters at least once a year, to meet staff and discuss issues and situations that UNHCR believes she can help highlight.

During her latest Geneva visit, Jolie received extensive briefings from UNHCR experts on a variety of issues, including - but not limited to - her current mission to Pakistan.

"This time, I've been looking deeper into specific issues that affect refugees' daily lives," she said shortly before boarding her flight to Pakistan, adding that she had received briefings on issues such as gender-based violence, HIV/Aids, refugees and the environment, trafficking of women, micro-credit programmes, water, site-planning and emergency operations.

"These are complex subjects," she said. "But if I'm to be an effective advocate for refugees, I need to know what I'm talking about. Providing a good, clean water supply is, of course, vital - but often easier said than done in places like Chad or Sudan. Set up a camp badly, and diseases will spread. Huge concentrations of refugees can have an awful impact on the environment. How do you minimize that? How does an agency like UNHCR balance its priorities, when there is so much to do, and so few resources to do it with?"

Jolie said that although her main focus was on field missions - she has made around 30 different trips as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador - her periodic visits to the agency's headquarters were also important.