Angelina Jolie retires as UN refugee agency envoy

United Nations – Actress Angelina Jolie and the United Nations refugee agency are parting ways after more than two decades, they announced Friday.

Jolie has been the UN’s highest-profile goodwill ambassador and special envoy since 2001. She indicated Friday that she is choosing to work with local organizations rather than the world body.

“After 20 years working in the UN system, I feel it is time to work differently, engaging directly with refugees and local organizations, and supporting their advocacy for solutions,” Jolie said in a joint statement. statement with the UN

Angelina Jolie United Nations
Actress Angelina Jolie, special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, gives a statement in Goudebou, a Malian refugee camp in northern Burkina Faso, on International Refugee Day on June 20, 2021.


Filippo Grandi, high commissioner of the refugee agency, praised Jolie’s dedication to her job, which he has taken her on more than five dozen trips to countries including Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Haiti, and most recently Ukraine.

“Angelina Jolie has been an important humanitarian partner of UNHCR for a long time. We are grateful for her decades of service, her commitment and the difference she has made for refugees and people forced to flee,” Grandi said.

UN Assistant Secretary General Melissa Fleming, who was director of communications at the refugee agency for many years and worked with Jolie, tweeted on Friday that the actress “opened the eyes, minds and hearts of the public.”

The move comes after Jolie wrote about her frustration with the UN’s inability to bring peace to a growing number of countries in conflict, a view she expressed at the General Assembly in 2019.

“We live in a time of flagrant disregard for the laws of war that prohibit attacks against civilians… We seem unable to maintain minimum standards of humanity in many parts of the world,” he said in the speech.

After the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, he wrote in a piece for Time magazine in June: “One in six children worldwide, 426 million, live in a conflict zone.” And yet, he continued, “because of the way the UN was created, it leans toward the interests and voice of powerful nations at the expense of the people who suffer the most from conflict and persecution, whose rights and lives are not They get the same treatment.” “

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visits Colombia
Angelina Jolie speaks with children in Riohacha, Colombia, on June 7, 2019. Jolie visited the children, who had fled Venezuela, in Brisas del Norte, an informal settlement inhabited by Colombian refugees who have returned to their country, as well as Venezuelans escaping a political and economic crisis at home.

Andrew McConnell/UNHCR via Getty Images

And he took aim at the inaction of the 15-nation Security Council last month, writing in The Guardian“We find some members of the security council abusing their veto power.”

Richard Gowan, UN director for the International Crisis Group think tank, told CBS News on Friday that Jolie “has shown remarkable patience with the UN.”

“She has been one of the most effective celebrity advocates,” Gowan said. “But we are in an era where political and economic forces are going to make the UN’s humanitarian work more and more difficult.

“I suspect that celebrities will look to alternative platforms to do good deeds, such as international NGOs, instead of the UN in the future, as multilateral diplomacy becomes more and more complicated,” he added.

During a June trip to a refugee camp In Burkina Faso on World Refugee Day, Jolie told officials and refugees: “I have never been so concerned about the state of displacement globally as I am today.”

“The way that we as an international community try to deal with conflict and insecurity is broken,” he said.

Jolie’s departure as UN spokesperson and envoy on these issues comes as the agency struggles to deal with rising human rights violations around the world.

“At a time when the world is facing complex, multifaceted and interconnected crises, she (Jolie) plans to engage with a broader range of actors on a broader set of humanitarian issues, as well as work more directly with local organizations.” the UN wrote in its statement on Friday.

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