Angelina Jolie took a trip south over the weekend in her capacity as a Special Envoy for the UNHCR. The mom-of-six visited Colombia’s border area with Venezuela on Friday, June 7, to assess the humanitarian response to the exodus of Venezuelan refugees and migrants – which according to the UN Refugee Agency, is the largest and fastest movement of people in Latin America’s recent history.
VIEW GALLERY Special Envoy Angelina Jolie traveled to Colombia where she met with refugees
During her two-day visit, Angelina, 44, met with refugees, including children who fled the crisis-stricken country, and spoke at a press conference, during which she highlighted the UNHCR’s necessity for funds, as well as the struggles Colombia faces as the country keeps its borders open, absorbing “unprecedented numbers of desperate people.” Angelina said, “It is extraordinary that a country facing so many huge challenges of its own, has shown such humanity and is making these live-saving efforts. I want to acknowledge the bravery, strength and resilience of the Colombian people."
Because of the situation in Venezuela, over 400,000 Colombians, who had originally been displaced to the South American country, have been forced to return home, along with 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees seeking protection in Colombia. An additional 3.3 million Venezuelan nationals have crossed the border in need of supplies and assistance; all of which have greatly impacted Colombia’s public services. Several schools have doubled the number of students in classrooms, while some border hospitals are now providing emergency health care to as many Venezuelans as Colombians.
VIEW GALLERY The filmmaker called for leadership and compassion
“This is a life and death situation for millions of Venezuelans. But UNHCR has received only a fraction of the funds it needs, to do even the bare minimum to help them survive,” Angelina said in a statement. With the number of refugees rising, the Hollywood star stressed the importance of leadership to take responsibility to address threats to peace and security, and to build a rules-based world order.
“The human response is to not turn a blind eye. It is to acknowledge your fellow men and women and their suffering. It is to work towards solutions, no matter how hard,” Angelina said. “And above all, the human response is not to blame a victim of war or violence for their circumstances, or for their requests for help for their defenseless children. Today we need that humanity more than ever, and rational thinking from people who are unafraid to take responsibility and show leadership.”
The Maleficent star added, “I will not forget what I have seen here, I will not forget the Venezuelan people I have met here. My heart is with them, and I hope to return again soon.”