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Jolie releases online journal on mission to Russian Federation


Jolie releases online journal on mission to Russian Federation

The UN refugee agency's Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, shares her experience with displaced Chechens in Ingushetia and with refugees in North Ossetia and Moscow in her latest journal.
26 January 2004 Also available in:
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie with displaced Chechens in Bella camp, Ingushetia. The camp has since been closed.

GENEVA, Jan 26 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency's Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, has released a new online journal documenting her mission to the Russian Federation, where she met displaced Chechens as well as refugees in Moscow and North Ossetia.

During her four-day mission from August 21-24 last year, Jolie travelled to the republic of Ingushetia in the North Caucasus, meeting Ingush President Murat Zyazikov and displaced Chechens in Bella and Sputnik camps. Her journal shows both sides of the picture, reflecting the displaced people's fears about security in Chechnya alongside the authorities' view of the situation.

In North Ossetia, a republic bordering Georgia, the Goodwill Ambassador visited the Gizel collective centre in Vladikavkaz, where she spoke to elderly Georgian refugees, many of whom had lost loved ones and were living alone. At a housing project in Komsomolskoe, she was welcomed by a traditional dance and refugees grateful for their new homes.

In Moscow, Jolie was invited into the homes of African refugees, where she heard their problems ranging from xenophobic attacks to a lack of status. She also met an Afghan women's support group, as well as a group of African refugees who had set up a non-governmental organisation with help from UNHCR.

Jolie's journal recorded more than her experiences with displaced populations. It also reflected her concern for humanitarian workers working in the field - from a long list of aid workers attacked in the Caucasus region, to those killed when the UN headquarters in Baghdad was bombed just days before the start of her mission. The Goodwill Ambassador also mourned the deaths of UNHCR's friend and 2003 Nansen Refugee Award winner Annalena Tonelli in Somalia and aid worker Bettina Goislard in Afghanistan.

"I know that if thousands of people were dying every day in California, London or New York, it would be very different. But most of these people are in places like Africa, Chechnya, the Balkans, Central Asia and Colombia, and maybe the world is used to hearing about their deaths? Is it old news? Are they too many? Or is it that they have nothing we feel to give to us in return? Which is of course wrong because they have everything to offer," concluded the journal.

"At the end of the day, what should that matter, we are equal. They are families like us. And they need our help, our support. And in areas like Chechnya, they need us not to forget."