Monday, September 17, 2012

Angelina Jolie visits refugee camps

angelina and nechirvan barzani

Angelina Jolie's trip to Iraq to visit with Syrian refugees has gotten considerable press attention at a time when Iraq rarely gets a mention.  The Academy Award winning actress is also the United Nations Special Envoy on Refugee Issues.   Pictured above with Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Jolie visited the KRG on Sunday.    Here's the UN News Centre's release on the trip:

16 September 2012 – On the last stop of a tour of countries neighbouring conflict-ridden Syria, United Nations special envoy Angelina Jolie on Sunday hailed the Iraqi Government's willingness to host those who have fled the violence and said she hoped that all Syrians seeking asylum would be welcomed.
“I want to highlight the noble efforts of the Iraqi Government and the people of Iraq to support Syrian refugees,” said the Hollywood actress, who is also a special envoy for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“At this juncture, it is critical that Iraq receives urgent international support and continues to welcome refugees across its borders,” she added.
More than 260,000 Syrian refugees have been registered in neighbouring countries since the conflict began in March 2011, according to UNHCR. Earlier this week, Ms. Jolie visited Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey with High Commissioner António Guterres, with both of them pledging continued support and emphasizing the life-saving importance of maintaining open borders and hosting Syrians in need.
More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last year. Amidst reports of an escalation in violence in recent weeks in many towns and villages, as well as the country's two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, UN agencies now estimate that some 2.5 million Syrians are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Ms. Jolie spent Sunday meeting with Syrian refugees in the Domiz camp in northern Iraq. She also met officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government, including the prime minister, the interior minister and the governor of Dohuk. Many of the officials she met were former refugees.
While in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Saturday, the special envoy met with senior government officials and spent time with Iraqis, until recently refugees in Syria, who have returned to Iraq after fleeing violence in their places of former refuge.

BBC offers a streaming video report of her tripThe Age carries a Reuters video report on the trip.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) offers a photo essay of the visit.

RTT News notes this is Jolie's fourth trip to Iraq and "Jolie spent Sunday meeting with Syrian refugees in the Domiz camp in northern Iraq. She also met officials of the Kurdistan regional government, including the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister and the Governor of Dohuk. Many of the officials she met were former refugees."  The Voice of Russia notes that in addition to visiting Iraq, she also toured "refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey."  Sowetan's report includes:

"What they described on the ground, hearing it from them is so horrific," she said, adding that the children's stories were especially moving, including some who said they had witnessed people being pulled apart "like chickens."
"When you meet so many innocent people and civilians, the people of Syria are asking who is on their side. 'Who is going to help us as the months go on?" she added.

Approximately two-thirds of the Syrian refugees in Iraq who are registered with the United Nations are in the KRG.  Despite this fact, All Iraq News reports that the KRG has received zero in financial support for the refugees from the Iraqi central government out of Baghdad.    AFP quotes her stating at the Dohuk refugee camp Domiz, "I know how gracious the Kurdish government and the Kurdish region people have been to the Syrian refugees."  AFP also quotes her stating at Dohuk, "I have been to the four borders of Syria, and this is the first camp I have been to where they are already preparing for winterisation, and also where there are ID cards, giving freedom of movment, which is an extraordinary thing."   AKI quotes her stating, "At this juncture, it is critical that Iraq receives urgent international support and continues to welcome refugees across its borders."   The KRG issued the following on her visit:

Erbil, Kurdistan Region - Iraq ( – Angelina Jolie, the Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, travelled to the Kurdistan Region today to visit refugees in camps along the Syrian border and to discuss with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani the help provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government. 

Ms Jolie this morning met some of the 21,000 Syrian refugees that have taken shelter in camps in Duhok province before travelling to Erbil to meet Prime Minister Barzani who welcomed Ms Jolie to Kurdistan and thanked her for drawing attention to the plight of the refugees. 

Citing the $10million allocated by the KRG to provide for the needs of the refugees, the Prime Minister said, “We have not received any support from Baghdad, but of course this has not caused us to delay our aid. Instead of waiting for the support of the Federal Government, we have provided immediate assistance to those who have sought shelter with us.” 

Ms Jolie thanked the Prime Minster and the KRG for the help they are providing and expressed her hope that the international community will begin partnering with the Region in these efforts. 

The Prime Minister detailed the aid being provided to the refugees, explaining that the KRG is providing food, shelter, healthcare, and emergency aid, as well as developing an educational programme that will soon be implemented to allow the children to keep up with their studies. They also discussed the situation in the other camps that Ms Jolie had visited in her role as UN ambassador. 

Ms Jolie arrived in Kurdistan today after meeting with Iraqi returnees from Syria and senior government officials in Baghdad on Saturday. Her visit is part of a larger regional tour of camps in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon for Syrians who have been displaced by the violence in the country. 

In April 2012, Ms Jolie was appointed Special Envoy of the UNHCR, before which she served for several years as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR. The famous Hollywood actress has been a very strong public advocate for human rights.

Khudair Miri (Dar Addustour) covers the trip and notes the hope of some that this is an indication of a new Iraq on the world stage.  Miri also observes that many famous people take a position to increase their own fame but never do anything hands on whereas Angelina has demonstrated her desire to do responsible work and take on humanitarian issues. Dawan Hadi (AKnews) observes, "According to UN figures, the Syrian crisis has forced some 235,000 Syrians to flee to neighboring countries, with some 80,00 taking shelter in Turkey."  The largest number has been taken in by Jordan.    Al Rafidayn notes that 10,914 Syrian refugees in Iraq are in the process of registration with the UN (which will make over 36,000 registered Syrian refugees when the process is complete) and that Angelina met with Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Saturday.

angelina and hoshyar zebari
Zebari's office issued the following on their meeting:

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met today 15/09/2012, the goodwill ambassador of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Mrs. Angelina Jolie and her accompanying delegation.

During the meeting they discuss and reviewed the situation of Syrian refugees in Iraq and the government's efforts in providing supplies of decent life for them, and also explained the further plans and programs of the government to the pressing humanitarian cases.

The Minister said that the number of Syrian refugees reached (21) thousand in the governorates of Dohuk and Anbar and that the number of Iraqi's that have returned from Syria have reached (31) thousand because of the intensified Syrian crisis.

Mrs. Jolie visited countries of the region, including refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to highlight the suffering of humanity and the importance of the international community to act to provide the necessary assistance.

In Baghdad, she also visited with some Iraqi refugees who had sought shelter in Syria but returned due to the recent violence. 

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "No, I can't!" went up last night. On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Jose Padilla, Ward Churchill, Armenia protesting a murderer's extradition, the US government refusing to extradite the former president of Bolivia, CCR attorney Shane Kadidal on DoD drugging Guantanamo prisoners and attorney David Remes on the death of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif who died in Guantamo last week after being held that for ten years -- since the age of 22.

The e-mail address for this site is


law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner