UNHCR's special envoy actress Angelina Jolie smiles as she meets with Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley February 23, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie arrived in Lebanon on Monday to visit with Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley and to meet with Prime Minister Tammam Salam.
Speaking at a news conference in Beirut, Jolie said the international community should support Lebanon, the smallest of Syria’s neighbors which is giving sanctuary to many refugees fleeing a civil war in their home country.
“Lebanon, as you know, has the highest concentration of refugees of any country in the world in recent history. That is an extraordinary thing. We must do all that we can to support them,” she said. “I spent time in the Bekaa Valley recently with Syrian refugees, and they are very grateful to the people of Lebanon. They are clearly very traumatized from what has happened to them in Syria.”
Syrians now make up around a quarter of Lebanon’s own population of just over 4 million.
Referring to the UN Security Council’s rare unity in acting on Syria’s civil war on Saturday, when Russia and China supported a resolution to boost aid access in Syria, Jolie said she hoped it would make a difference.
“I hope that – and I welcome – the Security Council resolution, but as one of the refugee men said to me: ‘For now for us it is only a piece of paper, and until it is implemented and until we see change, that is all it is, but we are grateful and we hope that it does make a difference for us.’” Jolie’s visit to east Lebanon was carried out under tight security measures.
The Hollywood actress met Salam at the Grand Serail in Beirut.
Jolie traveled to Syria in 2007 and again in 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees with her partner, actor Brad Pitt. During one trip they met Syrian president Bashar Assad and his wife Asma, who later told Vanity Fair magazine that the couples lunched in the capital.