Jolie: Internally displaced Iraqis need more help

Thu Feb 7, 2008 9:51am EST
 
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By Paul Tait

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Hollywood star and humanitarian activist Angelina Jolie appealed on Thursday for more international help for the millions of Iraqis displaced internally and abroad, U.N. officials said.

Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), met officials from the United Nations, the U.S. embassy and the U.S. military in central Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

"She's here in her official capacity to talk to government officials, the military and the United Nations about Iraq's refugees and displaced persons," Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy to Baghdad, told Reuters.

Jolie also visited Iraq last August, when she went to a makeshift camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) and met Iraqi refugees in Damascus, capital of neighboring Syria.

She said she wanted more information about IDPs and to discuss the problem with the Iraqi government, U.S. officials and aid workers, as well as to meet local Iraqis.

"There are over 2 million internally displaced people and there doesn't seem to be a real coherent plan to help them," Jolie told CNN. "There's lots of goodwill and lots of discussion but there seems to be just a lot of talk at the moment and a lot of pieces need to be put together," she said.

Some 2.2 million Iraqis have fled sectarian fighting which killed tens of thousands after the bombing of a revered Shi'ite shrine in February 2006 and pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates that between 1.5 million and 2 million Iraqis fled to Syria, most of the others going to Jordan. Roughly the same number are displaced within Iraq.   Continued...

 
<p>File photo shows actress Angelina Jolie at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 27, 2008. Jolie appealed on Thursday for more international help for the millions of Iraqis displaced internally and abroad, U.N. officials said. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>