Angelina Jolie Pitt has six children of her own, and can’t help but picture what it would be like to be forced to flee with her family for their lives.
“Over half of all refugees in Jordan are under 18. My own children are of that age,” Jolie Pitt said Friday at Azraq Refugee Camp, a U.N. facility in Jordan for refugees of Syria’s civil war. “Like any other parent, it is impossible for me not to imagine what it would be like for my own children in this situation.”
The actress, who serves as a special envoy for the U.N.’s refugee agency, or UNHCR, visited the camp for the fourth time to highlight the plight of the millions who have fled Syria.
Jolie Pitt described meeting a 13-year-old boy who bore scars from a barrel bomb, and a family who fled Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group in Syria. She said the family moved 20 times within Syria while the mother suffered multiple miscarriages and family members were killed in airstrikes.
Jordan has been overwhelmed by the flow of people seeking refuge since the war began in 2011. As boatloads of people crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe make international headlines, Syria’s neighbors have been mostly silent as they deal with the influx of refugees.
Jordan is estimated to be hosting most than 1 million refugees that now comprise approximately 10 percent of its total population. Jolie Pitt thanked the country for its “moral leadership” on the issue.
“You have given your all to helping your Syrian neighbors, from the earliest days of the conflict,” Jolie Pitt said. “You did so knowing that it would be extremely difficult, and that the war could last for years, and with huge demands on your resources and services in your communities already.”
Jolie Pitt has served as envoy for the UNHCR, which seeks to bring international attention to the plight of Syrians and other refugees from around the world, since 2012. Jolie Pitt, who is married to actor Brad Pitt, has adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam. The couple also has three biological children.
She worked with UNHCR as a goodwill ambassador on the issue of refugees for over 10 years before being named special envoy. Jolie Pitt said the world needs to increase its financial contributions to the cause, as aid organizations have only half of the funds they need to serve those in need.
“The gulf between our responsibilities and our actions has never been so wide,” Jolie Pitt said. “For all the good intentions, extraordinary efforts in the field, and the generosity of host communities, it is impossible to say that we, as an international community, are using all the tools at our disposal, or that we have even come close to doing enough to help the Syrian people.”