UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits Darfur refugees in Chad

28 February 2007

Actress and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie wrapped up a two-day trip to a refugee camp in eastern Chad housing refugees from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, praising humanitarian workers for their tireless efforts in providing assistance while calling for more aid to those in need.

Actress and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie wrapped up a two-day trip to a refugee camp in eastern Chad housing refugees from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, praising humanitarian workers for their tireless efforts in providing assistance while calling for more aid to those in need.

“Years into this situation, now finding themselves coming under attack, humanitarian workers’ spirits are unbroken,” she said, on her first trip to the region since visiting both Chad and Darfur three years ago.

At the same time, Ms. Jolie called for greater support to aid refugees, such as those she met in the Oure-Cassoni camp, which is home to 26,000 refugees and is less than five kilometres from Chad’s border with Sudan.

“It’s always hard to see decent people, families, living in such difficult conditions,” she said. “What is most upsetting is how long it is taking the international community to answer this crisis.”

After travelling through a sandstorm to the Oure-Cassoni camp, the northernmost of 12 camps run by UNCHR in eastern Chad sheltering more 230,000 refugees from Darfur, Ms. Jolie was welcomed by singing schoolchildren. At one of the camp’s many schools, she spoke with students about their wishes to return to their homes in Sudan one day.

Yesterday, she met with a group of women who told her that they want to engage in income-generating activities and one day return home to Darfur, yet they acknowledged they cannot repatriate given the precarious security situation, the agency said in a news release.

Many of the refugees Ms. Jolie spoke to declared their wishes for an international peacekeeping force in Chad to protect civilians and prevent attacks from across the border in Sudan. They also said they were relieved after hearing radio reports that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had named a Sudanese Government Minister and a militia leader as suspects wanted for war crimes.

“The decisions of the ICC could make a big difference in the lives of these women and their children,” and “many refugees seemed to have a new sense of hope” upon hearing the news, Ms. Jolie said. “In order to feel safe enough to return home, these people said they would need to know that the men who attacked them had been stripped of their weapons.”

Yesterday, UNHCR launched a $6.2 million supplementary appeal to help Chad manage up to 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) expected to be forced from their homes this year. In addition to the over 200,000 refugees from Darfur, Chad also hosts 46,000 people from the Central African Republic (CAR).

 

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