Jolie's Jordan journal gives voice to the displaced and desperate
GENEVA, March 15 (UNHCR) - When UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited a refugee camp in Jordan late last year, she heard a lifetime of stories in the span of a few hours - tales of horror and hope captured in an online journal released today by the UN refugee agency.
Jolie's latest journal chronicles her one-day mission last December to Ruweished camp in eastern Jordan, where more than 500 people have settled after fleeing the conflict in Iraq last spring. Most of them are Palestinians, with others from countries like Somalia and Sudan.
At the camp's pre-school, the children sang for the Goodwill Ambassador, while others tried to tell their war stories through pantomime. One boy recalled, "We were living in Baghdad in peace. Then the first day of the war we were very frightened from all the bombs and missiles."
Asked about the most difficult part of living in a camp, the children answered unanimously, "The cold weather, the night and the sandstorms."
Aged between four and 12, they told her "their dream is to see their homeland. To live as citizens of a country they belong to." Most of them aspired to be teachers and doctors, noted Jolie, who asked one boy why he chose to be a lawyer. "To make justice for people, there needs to be more justice," he replied.
Visiting a feeding centre at the camp, the Goodwill Ambassador met pregnant women and new mothers, some of whom have trouble breast-feeding, possibly because of stress. One heavily-pregnant Somali woman who had lost her husband in Somalia said she could not go home because "there is constant war."
Before leaving Ruweished, Jolie attended a community meeting for people to voice their problems and concerns.
"We must help all our friends and brothers. We received you as transits. We will look after you and your human dignity until you find solutions," said a Jordanian government representative, noting that 386 Palestinians who had arrived in Jordan from Iraq with their Jordanian spouses and children have since been granted entry by King Abdullah to stay in Amman.
A Somali woman who had lost her mother mumbled simply, "I have no solution." A Palestinian woman added, "We wish we could go home, we can't. Can we get out of this camp? We don't know how or when."
Summing up the despair in the camp, a man took the floor, hands shaking as he spoke, "We have lost our families. We now go from country to country to find a way to live as human beings. We are beginning to lose hope."