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Jolie Calls for Assistance for Afghan Refugees

Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie Calls for Global Assistance for Afghan Refugees

New York, May 9 2005 11:00AM

Wrapping up her visit to Pakistan, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie thanked the country for hosting millions of Afghan refugees and appealed for international assistance to help both Afghanistan and Pakistan attack poverty through economic development.

After three days of visiting Afghans in conditions ranging from refugee camps to brick kilns, where entire families work, Ms. Jolie said Saturday that she had been brought to tears by what she had seen, but added that she was encouraged that in talks with UN High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) staff and the top leaders of Pakistan, she found agreement on what had to be done.

“Everybody feels that forced repatriation is not the aim and not something that should be done,” the Academy Award-winning actress said at a news conference. “Another thing is that the burden on Pakistan and the Pakistani people, which has lasted 25 years, is very large and they have not been given the support that they should have been given.”

While Ms. Jolie helped UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme, personally seeing off a convoy that pushed the number of Afghans returning this year above the 50,000 mark, she said there was a continuing need both to help those who still felt unable to go home and for more urgent development in Afghanistan.

“It's up to the international community to help to fund and to help shoulder the burden of the problem in this part of the world – to help the people, help the families, to continue the programmes and encourage that there be more and faster development,” said Ms. Jolie, who had last been in Pakistan when Afghans were fleeing war in their country.

Soon after her 2001 visit, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan were ousted and the flow reversed, with more than 2.3 million Afghans returning from Pakistan since 2002.

ENDS

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