United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited refugees at an internally displaced person camp in Dohuk, northern Iraq on Sunday. Jolie reported that she was “speechless” when she saw the immense suffering of the refugees staying at the camp. After hearing the horror stories of the people living at the camp, she has returned to the United States more determined than ever to do something to help them.
In recent years, the displacement of populations in the Middle East has occurred on a large scale due to the civil war in Syria and the escalation of armed conflict across Iraq. Many of the refugee camps are out of the reach of humanitarian agencies due to armed groups and the lack of security for traveling. Religious minorities often find themselves dealing with discrimination and violence while looking for shelter and aid. Millions of refugees in the Middle East are in desperate need of aid to survive
Jolie has visited the war-torn country five times over the last eight years and the situation for the refugees has just gotten worse as time has passed. In central Iraq, the advance of the Islamic State has resulted in more than three-quarters of a million people fleeing from their homes. According to a report from Refugees International, the total number of Iraqi persons internally displaced currently stands at about 2 million.
After her visit, Jolie called on the international community to open their doors to welcome refugees and for the United States to defend human rights around the world. In her statement to the press, she said that the international community has a responsibility to help those in need who cannot help themselves. The attention that she has brought to the situation has resulted in an outpouring of donations from generous donors eager to help in some way. It remains to be seen whether that aid will be able to make it across the combat zones to those who need it the most.