Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie: no negotiated peace without human rights and dignity for the Syrian people

Press releases

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie: no negotiated peace without human rights and dignity for the Syrian people

28 January 2018
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie meets Syrian refugees at Za'atari camp in Jordan.
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie interacts with Syrian refugee children at a news conference at Za'atari camp in Jordan.

Remarks in Za'atari camp in Jordan as delivered:

“It is heartbreaking to return to Jordan and witness the levels of hardship and trauma among Syrian refugees as the war enters its eighth year. 

We in UNHCR are deeply grateful to the Jordanian people, for their generosity and humanity towards the victims of the conflict. 

Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq now host nearly 5 ½ million Syrian refugees between them. 

They really are an example to the world, at a time when solidarity with refugees is in short supply. 

We should be under no illusions that this is a crisis that has been out of control for years.

UNHCR does not have the funds to provide in full even the most basic necessities for survival for many families:

Last year, the UNHCR response for the Syria crisis was only 50 per cent funded. 

And so far in 2018, it is only 7 per cent funded. 

There is nothing more devastating for UNHCR staff than not to be able to give people the help they need and deserve. 

After seven years of war, most Syrian refugees have exhausted any savings they had. 

The vast majority of them already live below the poverty line, on less than three dollars a day. 

Imagine what that would mean for your family. 

Here, it means families going without sufficient food; children unable to get medical treatment; young girls vulnerable to early marriage; and many Syrians facing their seventh winter without proper shelter.

This is the reality of those displaced by the conflict in Syria, and I want to thank all the journalists who continue tirelessly to cover these stories and bring them to the attention of the world.

We know that the fundamental issue is not that people don’t know what it happening. It is the lack of a credible political and diplomatic process - based on human rights and international law - to bring the violence to an end.

A viable political settlement is the only way to create the conditions for Syrians to return to their homes, and to end the human suffering and the strain on host countries. 

Humanitarian aid is not a long-term solution. And to be clear, no one wants to get off aid relief more than Syrian families. For such an educated, capable people, it is soul-destroying to be made this dependent. 

So I would urge the Security Council members to come to the region, to visit the camps and the urban refugees, and find a way to finally bring the full weight of the UN and international community to bear to solve this conflict. 

We should never forget that the war began with demands by Syrians for greater human rights. 

Peace in their country has to be built on that. 

It cannot be built on impunity for the targeting of civilians by all sides, the bombing of schools and hospitals, barrel bombs, torture, chemical weapons and rape used as a weapon of war. 

It must be built on accountability – for instance, justice and recognition for the years of violence that women in Syria have faced.

So that is my message to the international community today: yes, of course, please do moreto help meet the needs of desperate Syrian families, and the countries hosting them. 

But above all please provide the leadership and strength needed to negotiate a principled end to this senseless war – without sacrificing the dignity and human rights of Syrian families. That is non-negotiable.

Thank you all for letting me speak to you today.