17 Jun 2011

Angelina Jolie arrives in Turkey to meet Syrian refugees

UN goodwill ambassador Jolie is meeting refugees who escaped into Turkey from the violence in Syria.

More than 8,500 Syrians have fled to Turkey, which has set up four refugee camps across the border from the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour and more are arriving by the day.

They are part of an exodus of nearly 20,000 Syrians who have abandoned their homes as government forces continue to mount a bloody crackdown on opponents of President Assad.

Ms Jolie has been a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency UNHCR for ten years, since a visit to Sierra Leone in 2001. She has visited over 20 countries on behalf of the organisation, raising awareness of the situations faced by people displaced by war and natural disasters. She has campaigned for more refugee reintergration work in Afghanistan and for more assistance for refugees in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The actress, who is one of the best known of the UN’s goodwill ambassadors, is now in the Turkish province of Hatay, near the border with Syria and will visit camps that have been set up to house the refugees. The Turkish authorities hung a 15 metre long banner near the entrance of the camp to welcome her, reading: “Goodness Angel of the World, Welcome.”

The UNHCR describes Ms Jolie as having: “A truly global reach.” Other UN goodwill ambassadors include the actors Mia Farrow and Liam Neeson and David Beckham.

June 20th is World Refugee Day and also marked in June is the 60th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention. A video, featuring Ms Jolie, is being released as part of a Twitter and Facebook campaign called “1 Life, 1 Story”.