Last updated: 14 September, 2012

Actress Angelina Jolie raises concern for Syrian refugees

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie on Friday said she was concerned about the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing the unrest in their conflict-torn country with no end in sight to the violence.

“With the violence in the conflict showing no signs of easing up and the numbers (of refugees) growing… it is a very large concern for all of us,” Jolie, a UN special envoy, told reporters in Ankara.

“I share everyone’s concern about the winter approaching,” she added, calling for help to make sure that “nobody freezes to death in this very very frightened time.”

Accompanied by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, Jolie held talks with Turkish officials in Ankara including President Abdullah Gul, a day after visiting refugee camps along the border.

The Oscar-winning actress listened to the accounts of refugees in the camps who have fled Syria, where a brutal conflict that began as a peaceful uprising against the Damascus regime has now killed around 27,000 people, according to activists.

“No one wants to live as a refugee. No one wants to live in a camp,” Jolie said in Ankara.

“All of these people lost their homes and they fled extreme violence, they lost their families. They are very very emotional.”

She said Syrian refugees still feel “very alone and in many ways abandoned” despite discussions and news being reported on their situation.

“They are of course also very traumatised and the Turkish government spoke about doing much to assist them and work now with psychological assistance. This is also very important.”

Jolie, who visited another camp in June last year, praised the Turkish camps as “very organised” but said: “It is a large amount of people and it is still at the end of the day a camp.”

Turkey is currently home to some 80,000 registered refugees in its camps in the southeast bordering Syria but the Ankara government announced it can handle no more than 100,000 refugees.

As the numbers are growing and reaching the 100,000 threshold, Turkey has called for safe zones to protect people on Syrian soil, but the proposal fell on deaf ears at a UN Security Council meeting last month.