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Angelina Jolie returns to Ecuador to highlight challenges facing refugees


Angelina Jolie returns to Ecuador to highlight challenges facing refugees

20 June 2010 Also available in:
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits a daycare centre run by the Women’s Federation of Sucumbíos, a province in northern Ecuador. © UNHCR/J.Björgvinsson

Angelina Jolie returns to Ecuador to highlight challenges facing refugees
LAGO AGRÍO, Ecuador, June 18 (UNHCR)

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has returned to northern Ecuador to see how the situation has changed since she was last in the country eight years ago and to raise awareness about unaccompanied minors and violence against female refugees.
In Lago Agrío, capital of Sucumbíos province, she had a reunion with a Colombian mother whom Jolie last met here in 2002. "At that time she had a lot of hope for her future," the Goodwill Ambassador recalled, while adding: "She was recently treated for cancer. She still holds on to hope."

Some of the women in the centre, run by the Women´s Federation of Sucumbíos, told harrowing tales of beatings, incest and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence. Some women even have to resort to "survival sex" to get lodging to feed their children. Others fall prey to sexual exploitation.

In Barranca Bermeja, Jolie spent time with the community and was impressed by their mental strength in coping with the suffering they had endured in Colombia. One woman fled after two of her family were killed – she did not want to lose any more of her children.

"I wanted to come back and meet with vulnerable people and focus on violence against women and unaccompanied minors," Jolie explained. Single women, girls and Afro-Colombians are among the most vulnerable of the refugee population.

By Sonia Aguilar and Marie-Noelle Little-Boyer in Lago Agrío, Ecuador



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.