Since she was named as a
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in early 2001, Angelina Jolie has visited more
than 20 countries around the world to highlight the plight of millions of
uprooted people and to advocate for their protection. She has managed to
do all this while pursuing a busy acting career and bringing up her
Her interest in
humanitarian affairs was piqued in 2000 when she went to Cambodia to film
the adventure film, Tomb Raider. Her interest and determination to help
the displaced, publicize their plight and lobby for international
assistance has never flagged.
After Jolie's recent trip
to Afghanistan at the end of 2008, the Oscar-winning American actress
appealed for more international commitment to help returnee reintegration
and urged greater humanitarian support for the population.
resilience and quiet dignity of returnee families rebuilding their lives
against the kind of adversity few of us can imagine show the human spirit
at its best," she said after spending part of her time in eastern
Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, where almost 850,000, or 20 percent, of
all Afghan returnees have repatriated since 2002.
When travelling to Sudan
and Chad in early 2007, Jolie was so struck by what she had seen that she
and her partner, actor Brad Pitt, donated US$1 million to be shared by
UNHCR and two other agencies for their work in helping millions of people
affected by the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.
"It's always hard to
see decent people, families, living in such difficult conditions,"
she said at the time, while adding that she was also struck by the sense
of hope she encountered. Jolie called on the international community to do
more to help the displaced and needy, just as she did when visiting Syria
and Iraq in August 2008 to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis and
raise support for UNHCR and its partners.
In addition to her
extensive field missions for UNHCR, Angelina has been calling attention to
the plight of the displaced at the political level in various gatherings,
including the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. She
regularly visits Washington DC, raising humanitarian issues during
meetings with the United States' top politicians. In 2007, she became a
member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations.
In 2005, also in the US
capital, she launched the National Centre for Refugee and Immigrant
Children, an organization that provides free legal aid to asylum-seeking
children with no legal representation. In 2006, Jolie announced the
founding of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which has made significant
donations worldwide. She also co-chairs the Education Partnership for
Children of Conflict, founded in 2006, which helps fund education
programmes for children affected by conflict.
Jolie's devotion to this
and other humanitarian causes has not gone unnoticed. In 2003, she was the
first recipient of the Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations
Correspondents Association, and in 2005 she was awarded the Global
Humanitarian Award by the United Nations Association of the USA and the
Business Council for the United Nations for her work with refugees.
In the same year she was
awarded Cambodian citizenship as a result of her extensive work in the
Asian country ravaged by civil war and brutal rule from the early 1970s to
the late 1990s. And in 2007, the International Rescue Committee awarded
its Freedom Award to Jolie and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António
Guterres for their contributions to the cause of refugees and human
Angelina Jolie (born
Angelina Jolie Voight; June 4, 1975) is an American actress. She has received an
Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards.
Jolie promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a
Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
. Jolie is the daughter of actors Jon Voight
and Marcheline Bertrand. Jolie 's partner in life is Brad Pitt. Jolie and Pitt
have three adopted children, Maddox, Pax, and Zahara, as well as a biological
daughters, Shiloh and Vivienne Marcheline and biological son Knox. Knox
and Vivienne Marcheline are twins.
Jolie has promoted humanitarian
causes throughout the world, and is noted for her work with refugees through
She plays many roles onscreen,
but Angelina Jolie never loses sight of her important role as a concerned global
citizen and active UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. The dedication to her craft that
garnered Angelina an Academy Award for her performance in Girl, Interrupted
(1999), is reflected in her efforts for the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), a UN agency that currently assists 20 million refugees in
approximately 120 countries.
Angelina's involvement with UNHCR
began with a mission to Sierra Leone, a small African country that - like the
Democratic Republic of the Congo - has been devastated by years of brutal civil
war. Seeing firsthand the enormous challenges that refugees face was a
life-altering experience for Angelina, who decided to use her fame to aid their
cause. In 2001, she was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
acting career has spanned two decades. Her first feature role was in
Lookin' to Get Out (1982), a film co-written and co-produced by her father, the
acclaimed actor Jon Voight. Since then, she has received Golden Globe Awards for
the television movies George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998) and her film credits
include Hackers (1995), The Bone Collector (1999), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000),
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador,
Angelina uses her status as a superstar to generate media coverage about the
plight of refugees and the conditions under which they live. She has traveled
widely to remote refugee camps and receiving centers in countries including
Tanzania, Namibia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Ecuador. To further raise
awareness, she has released her personal journals for select field visits that
can be accessed at USA for UNHCR. For her efforts, Angelina has been honored
with the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program Humanitarian
Jolie first became personally
aware of worldwide humanitarian crises while filming Tomb Raider in
poverty-stricken and widely mined Cambodia. According to Jolie, "I
discovered things about what's happening in the world... Cambodia was really eye
opening for me." Deeply affected by these experiences, she eventually
turned to UNHCR for more information on international trouble spots. In the
following months she agreed to visit different refugee camps around the world to
learn more about the situation and the conditions in these areas. In February
2001, Jolie went on her first field visit, an 18-day mission to Sierra Leone and
Tanzania; she later expressed her shock at what she had witnessed. In the coming
months she returned to Cambodia for two weeks and later visited Afghan refugees
in Pakistan where she donated $1 million for Afghan refugees in response to an
international UNHCR emergency appeal. She insisted on covering all costs related
to her missions and shared the same rudimentary working and living conditions as
UNHCR field staff on all of her visits. Impressed by her interest and devotion
in the subject, UNHCR named her a Goodwill Ambassador on August 27, 2001 at
UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, despite her warning that her controversial public
image might shed a negative light on the U.N.
In a press conference Jolie
explained her motives for joining the refugee agency:-
“ We cannot close ourselves off
to information and ignore the fact that millions of people are out there
suffering. I honestly want to help. I don't believe I feel differently from
other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with
meaning. All of us would like to believe that if we were in a bad situation
someone would help us."
During her first three years as
Goodwill Ambassador Jolie concentrated her efforts on field missions, visiting
refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) all around the world. Asked
what she hoped to accomplish, she stated, “Awareness of the plight of these
people. I think they should be commended for what they have survived, not looked
down upon.” In 2002, Jolie visited Tham Hin refugee camp in Thailand and
Colombian refugees in Ecuador to take a closer look at the “Western
Hemisphere's most severe humanitarian crisis”.
Jolie then went to various UNHCR
facilities in Kosovo and paid a visit to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya with
refugees mainly from Sudan. UNHCR's Representative to Kenya, George Okoth-Obbo,
praised her “presence, just to bring some joy into what is undoubtedly a hard
life for many of the people here”. She also visited Angolan refugees while she
was filming Beyond Borders in Namibia.
In 2003, Jolie embarked on a
six-day mission to Tanzania where she traveled to western border camps, hosting
Congolese refugees and she paid a week-long visit to Sri Lanka, where she saw
the post–war conditions in northern Sri Lanka. Jolie again attended World
Refugee Day on June 20 in Washington, D.C., and later concluded a four-day
mission to Russia as she traveled to North Caucasus to learn about all aspects
of UNHCR's operations in the region. Concurrently with the release of her movie
Beyond Borders in October 2003 she published Notes from My Travels, a collection
of journal entries that chronicle her early field missions (2001-2002). All her
proceeds from the book went to UNHCR. During a private stay in Jordan in
December 2003 she asked to visit Ruwaished camp in Jordan's remote eastern
desert, 70 km from the Iraqi border.
The camp hosted some 800 people
who had fled Iraq during the U.S.-led invasion and later that month she visited
Sudanese refugees near the Egyptian capital in Kilo Arbaa We Nus.
On her first U.N. trip within the
United States, Jolie went to Arizona in 2004, visiting detained asylum seekers
at three facilities and the Southwest Key Program, a facility for unaccompanied
children in Phoenix.
With the humanitarian situation
in Sudan worsening, she flew to Chad in June 2004, paying a visit to border
sites and camps for refugees who had fled fighting in western Sudan's Darfur
region. Four month later she returned to the region, this time going directly
into West Darfur to learn about the situation of thousands of IDPs. She stressed
the need for security and access to displaced people's home villages at a press
conference in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
On June 18, 2004 she and US
Secretary of State Colin Powell met again in Washington to launch the three day
events of World Refugee Day. Also in 2004 Jolie visited Afghan refugees in
Thailand and on a private stay to Lebanon during the Christmas holidays she
visited UNHCR's regional office in Beirut, as well as some young refugees and
cancer patients in the Lebanese capital.
With increasing experience, Jolie
became more involved in promoting humanitarian causes on a political level.
Since 2005 she has attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, announcing the
formation of a Council of Business Leaders with UNHCR's Deputy High
Commissioner, Wendy Chamberlin, in 2005, and participated in the panel
discussion Human Rights: Reduced to Charity? in 2006. Jolie also began lobbying
humanitarian interests in Washington, D.C. where she met with congressmen and
senators at least 20 times from 2003.
“ As much as I would love to
never have to visit Washington, that's the way to move the ball. ”
Among others, she pushed for The
Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act . On March 8, 2005 Jolie took part at a
National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C. where she promoted the bill and
in support of it announced the founding of the National Center for Refugee and
Immigrant Children, an organization that provides free legal-aid to
asylum-seeking children with no legal representation which Jolie personally
funded with a donation of $500,000 for its first two years. The Unaccompanied
Alien Child Protection Act eventually passed in December 2005. Jolie also pushed
for a bill to aid 70 million vulnerable children in the Third World which was
signed by President Bush in November 2005.
In addition to her political
involvement, Jolie began using the public’s interest in her to promote
humanitarian causes through the mass media. In May 2005 Jolie filmed a MTV
special, The Diary Of Angelina Jolie & Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in Africa,
portraying her and noted economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs on their trip to Sauri, a
remote group of villages in Western Kenya. There, Sachs's United Nations
Millennium Project team is working with locals to end poverty, hunger and
disease. In September 2005 Jolie was named the new spokesperson for the clothing
line St. John starting in the Spring of 2006. The deal includes the start-up of
a charity headed by Jolie which will focus on children's issues and causes. On
October 24, 2005 Jolie attended the First Annual Benefit Gala for the Worldwide
Orphans Foundation (WWO), where she pledged to partner with the WWO to treat
children in Ethiopia who have been orphaned by AIDS and are HIV positive. She
also announced her plan to support the WWO's Pediatric HIV/AIDS Clinic in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia and pledged an initial grant. In September 2006 Jolie
announced the founding of the Jolie/Pitt Foundation which made initial donations
to Global Action for Children and Doctors Without Borders of $1 million each.
Jolie visited Pakistani camps
containing Afghan refugees, in May 2005 and she also met with Pakistan's
President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. She returned to
Pakistan with Brad Pitt during the Thanksgiving weekend in November to see the
impact of the October 8 Kashmir earthquake. They met many quake victims as well
as President Musharraf. In 2006 Jolie and Pitt flew to Haiti and visited a
school supported by Yéle Haïti, a charity founded by Haitian-born hip hop
musician Wyclef Jean. Jolie also arranged a deal with People allowing them to
print the first picture showing her visibly pregnant in exchange for a $500,000
donation to Yéle Haïti. During a two-month stay in Namibia, as she awaited
the birth of her daughter, Jolie promoted the Global Education Week in an
interview with NBC and she also took part in a conference call with UK
Chancellor Gordon Brown who has pledged an extra $16 billion towards universal
free education. Jolie has worked with Senator Hillary Clinton since 2005 to get
the Education for All bill approved by the U.S. Congress. In November 2006,
while filming A Mighty Heart in India, she visited Afghan and Burmese refugees
in New Delhi and met the Minister of State for External Affairs, Anand Sharma,
praising India's longstanding hospitality to refugees. Jolie spent Christmas Day
with Colombian refugees in San José, Costa Rica where she handed out presents
and met with Costa Rican officials.
Jolie has received wide
recognition for her humanitarian work. On October 24, 2003 she was the first
recipient of the new created Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations
Correspondents Association. Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni awarded Jolie
Cambodian citizenship for her conservation work in the country on August 12,
2005; she has pledged $5 million to set up a wildlife sanctuary in the
north-western province of Battambang and owns property there.
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