Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie has been named as Special Envoy of the UN refugee agency.
Reports say Ms. Jolie will take on a new and expanded role as a Special Envoy of its High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres.
The UN refugee agency has named a special envoy for the first time where such position are usually reserved for career diplomats or retired politicians.
According Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ms. Jolie is expected to focus on large-scale crises resulting in the mass displacement of people, to undertake advocacy and represent UNHCR and Guterres at the diplomatic level, engaging with relevant interlocutors on global displacement issues.
As the United Nations’ Goodwill ambassador since 2001, Ms. Jolie has brought world attention to the suffering of refugees and children’s victimization. She was awarded in 2003 with the first Citizen of the World Award from the UN’s Correspondents’ Association. Ms. Jolie began travelling to field operations with UNHCR and was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2001.
According to UNHCR, she has carried out more than 40 field missions to some of the most remote regions of the world to highlight the plight of millions of uprooted people by violence and disasters.
Mr. Edwards said Ms. Jolie’s status as Special Envoy is effective immediately, and she would focus on complex emergencies and work to facilitate lasting solutions for people displaced by conflict.
“High Commissioner Guterres is grateful to Ms. Jolie for accepting this role at a critical time in global displacement.” -Mr. Edwards
In September 2010, Ms. Jolie has appealed for greater public support for efforts to provide humanitarian relief to the millions of people whose lives have been devastated by the floods taking over much of Pakistan.
Angelina Jolie has made three trips to Pakistan since becoming a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2001 and at the outbreak of the current crisis donated $ 100,000 to the agency for its assistance work in the country.
In 2011, the Hollywood star skipped Oscars and visited Afghanistan as part of her role as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
In addition, Ms. Jolie called for greater focus to be put on the reintegration of former Afghan refugees as she wrapped up her second visit to Afghanistan.
More than 5.5 million Afghan refugees have returned since the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001, mainly from Pakistan and Iran, and they now make up 20 per cent of the population. UNHCR is concerned that too many of these former refugees continue to live without jobs, shelter and other basic needs.