Angelina Jolie Meets Refugees in Ecuador
By RAPHAEL CHESTANG
April 23, 2012
Angelina Jolie made her first field visit as a Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees over the weekend, meeting with Colombian refugees in Ecuador.
According to the UNHCR, Ecuador is home to 56,000 refugees and 21,000 asylum-seekers. The Oscar winner urged the government to continue with its open asylum policy and "maintain its tradition of helping vulnerable people in need," saying that it is "very important that UNHCR and the government come here and give assistance. But it is also important that we help the local people understand what it is to be a refugee, what they've come from, what they've survived, what their intentions are. And their intentions are simply that they want to be safe and to have a decent life for their family."
The two-day trip marked Jolie's third time meeting the refugees in Ecuador. Her tour started on Saturday in Lago Agrio in the northern part of the country.
"I found these people impressive and was really moved by their determination to improve their community and take it into their own hands," Jolie said of the youth there, who revealed stories of being targeted as potential recruits for armed groups and traffickers.
On Sunday the Special Envoy discussed the protection situation for the refugees with Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.
This humanitarian effort comes on the heels of Jolie's recent trip to the Galapagos Islands with her fiance Brad Pitt in celebration of their engagement.