UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Syrian refugees in Lebanon and called on the international community to do more.
Angelina Jolie returned to Bekaa Valley in Lebanon on Tuesday, which marked the fifth anniversary of the conflict in Syria—something that has reportedly caused nearly 4.8 million Syrian refugees to flee to Lebanon, and 6.5 million more people displaced within Syria itself.
Jolie took time to speak out as a special envoy for the United Nations' refugee agency to plead with world leaders and governments to continue to take leadership in helping the millions displaced, recalling an emotional meeting with a couple of Syrian refugee families who simply just want to return home.
"I spent time this morning with a mother who was paralyzed after being shot by a sniper's rifle in a besieged area of Syria. She lies in one room, where she lives with her whole family, in a small, cold, makeshift settlement here in the Bekaa Valley," Jolie explained (as reported by People magazine). "Never once during our discussion did she ask for anything, did she stop smiling, or talk of anything other than her desire for her children to have the chance to go to school and have a better life"
She continued, "When I saw her beautiful smile, and her dedicated husband and children looking after her, I was in awe of them. They are heroes to me. And I ask myself, 'What have we come to when such survivors are made to feel like beggars?' We can do the right thing by refugees and build a more secure international environment. We can build order out of chaos."
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Thus, she asked, "I appeal to all governments to uphold the UN Convention on Refugees and basic human rights law, because it is both necessary and possible to protect people fleeing persecution and death and protect citizens at home. It should not be reduced to a choice between one or the other."
She concluded with what she sees as the most important facets in helping resolved the issue. "In my view it comes down to understanding the law, choosing not to be afraid, and showing political will. For the sake of the people of Syria, and for all the refugees around the world looking desperately to the international community to provide solutions, I hope we will do this.
"And I also hope that the 15th of March next year will finally herald a Syria at peace, and will be the beginning of a time of returns so that these refugees are able to fullfill their desire to go home."
Of course, this is far from the first time Jolie has urged world leaders to help in the Syrian refugee crisis.
Last April, she briefed the United Nations Security Council on the ongoing issue, imploring members of the council to "visit Syrian refugees to see first-hand their suffering and the impact it's having on the region."
She added at the time, "While our priority must be ending the Syrian conflict, we must also broaden out the discussion this much wider problem. Our times will be defined not by the crisis themselves, but by the way we pull together as an international community."