Angelina Jolie steps down as envoy for UN refugee agency

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Angelina Jolie and the United Nations’ refugee agency are separating after more than two decades.

in a joint statement issued on Friday, the American actress and the agency announced that she would “abandon” her role as the agency’s special envoy “to engage in a broader set of humanitarian and human rights issues.”

“I will continue to do everything in my power in the coming years to support refugees and other displaced people,” Jolie said in the statement, adding that she felt it was time to “work differently” by engaging directly with the refugees. and local organizations.

Jolie began working with the UN refugee agency in 2001 and was named its special envoy in 2012. such as “carrying out more than 60 field missions to bear witness to stories of suffering, as well as hope and resilience.”

“After a long and successful time with UNHCR, I appreciate your desire to change your commitment and support your decision,” said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, quoted by the agency. “I know the refugee cause will remain close to his heart, and I am sure he will bring the same passion and attention to a broader humanitarian portfolio.”

In an opinion piece published in The Guardian Jolie last month alluded to frustration over the lack of global progress in ending sexual violence in conflict.

“We came together and discussed these horrors and agreed that they must never be allowed to happen again. We promise to draw, and hold, that line. But when it comes to tough decisions about how to implement these promises, we run into the same problems time and time again,” she wrote, specifically calling out members of the UN Security Council for “abusing their veto power.”

Jolie previously characterized the United Nations as “imperfect” during a 2017 speech in Geneva, but he also defended the international body and said it needed support.

He later lobbied the United Nations to create a permanent and independent investigative body to accumulate and evaluate evidence in cases involving alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations. While promoting that effort at the UN headquarters in 2019, she told the AP that promoting women’s equality, fighting injustice, and helping refugees were the most important parts of her life after her children.

“But in many ways, they go hand in hand,” he said. Jolie has been involved in other advocacy efforts, most recently pushing for the renewal. of the US Violence Against Women Act.

Jolie began visiting refugee camps in 2001 and was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador that same year. At the time, the then high commissioner said he hoped the actress, then 26, could attract the attention of young people. to the plight of refugees.

Last year, Jolie told The Associated Press in Burkina Faso that he was concerned that increased displacement around the world would create more instability, and that governments needed to do something to address the conflicts that were at the root of the problem.

“Compared to when I started working with UNHCR 20 years ago, it seems that governments have largely given up on diplomacy…countries that have less are doing more to support refugees,” he told AP.

Developing countries host more than 80% of the world’s refugees, according to UNHCR, which also announced in May that the number of displaced people exceeded 100 million. for the first time. Speaking to the AP in August, Grandi praised the efforts of the European Union to help Ukrainian refugees, but implored world leaders to remember the other humanitarian crises for which his agency was raising funds.

“The big problem we have right now is that it tends to marginalize all the other crises that people are suffering from,” Grandi said of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

UNHCR lists different categories of “featured supporters” on its website, including goodwill ambassadors such as Australian actress Cate Blanchett, British author Neil Gaiman and Pakistani actor Mahira Khan.

In response to a request for additional comment, a spokesperson for the UN agency declined to provide further details beyond saying UNHCR “has no intention of appointing anyone else in the role of special envoy.”

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