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UN Refugee Envoy Angelina Jolie Writes Poignant Piece on Iraqi Refugees

Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie’s recent visit to Khanke in Northern Iraq has led her to write an impassioned piece on the current situation at the refugee camp, that is in a dire state, and demands the ‘international community’s attention’.

“I have visited Iraq five times since 2007, and I have seen nothing like the suffering I’m witnessing now.

“I came to visit the camps and informal settlements where displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees are desperately seeking shelter from the fighting that has convulsed their region.”

A UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Press Release warned that the humanitarian situation had worsened as the conflicts in Syria and Iraq “intensify and become intertwined.”

“In almost four years of war, nearly half of Syria’s population of 23 million people has been uprooted. Within Iraq itself, more than two million people have fled conflict and the terror unleashed by extremist groups.”

The humanitarian described her many encounters with people during her past visits to camps, explaining how she would ‘try her best to give support’, but this trip left her ‘speechless’.

“These refugees and displaced people have witnessed unspeakable brutality. Their children are out of school, they are struggling to survive, and they are surrounded on all sides by violence,” Jolie wrote.

UN News Centre states that the camp is currently hosting more than 20,000 people from the Yazidi minority who fled Sinjar, in Iraq’s Nineveh province, in early August as militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) advanced against Government forces.

“Nothing prepares you for the reality of so much individual human misery: for the stories of suffering and death, and the gaze of hungry, traumatized children,” wrote Jolie.

“Who can blame them for thinking that we have given up on them? Only a fraction of the humanitarian aid they need is being provided. There has been no progress on ending the war in Syria since the Geneva process collapsed 12 months ago.”

She affirmed that it was not only the lives of ‘millions of people and the future of Middle East’, but also questions the ‘credibility of the international system’.

“What does it say about our commitment to human rights and accountability that we seem to tolerate crimes against humanity happening in Syria and Iraq on a daily basis?”

She also notes that the ‘UN’s humanitarian appeals are significantly underfunded’ and appeals to those states outside the region to ‘offer sanctuary to the most vulnerable refugees in need of resettlement’.  

 “It is not enough to defend our values at home, in our newspapers and in our institutions. We also have to defend them in the refugee camps of the Middle East, and the ruined ghost towns of Syria,” she concluded.

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