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Angelina Jolie calls for international help for Syrian refugees

“It has been a very heavy experience,” the actress said of her tour of a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

Angelina Jolie speaks to the press at the Zaatari Refugees Camp today
Angelina Jolie speaks to the press at the Zaatari Refugees Camp today
Image: AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon

HOLLYWOOD STAR AND UN special envoy Angelina Jolie has urged the world to help Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country as she visited a refugee camp in Jordan.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh accompanied Jolie and called for international support to help the tiny kingdom cope with the influx of refugees from its northern neighbour.

“We encourage the international community to do everything they can to support these refugees, and there is much to be done,” Jolie told a joint news conference at Zaatari refugee camp, 85 kilometres north of Amman in a desert area near the border with Syria.

“It has been a very heavy experience,” she said of her tour of the camp. “It is very emotional to be with people who are wondering who is on their side.”

Angelina Jolie calls for international help for Syrian refugees
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  • Angelina Jolie in Syrian refugee camp

  • Angelina Jolie in Syrian refugee camp

  • Angelina Jolie in Syrian refugee camp

  • Angelina Jolie in Syrian refugee camp

  • Angelina Jolie in Syrian refugee camp

Guterres appealed to the international community to “help us and to help the Jordanian government… in order to be able to massively invest in improving the living conditions of refugees in this camp… please help us.”

“Since the beginning of the crisis over 200,000 Syrians have crossed the borders into Jordan without going back into Syria,” he said.

“I think the world should understand how difficult it is for Jordan to cope with this challenge,” he told the news conference, attended by Judeh.

Guterres also highlighted the miserable living conditions in Zaatari. “This camp, like all other camps in the world, is a very difficult place to live in,” he said.

In Geneva, meanwhile, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said the number of refugees who have fled Syria for neighbouring countries since the start of the conflict nearly 18 months ago has reached more than 250,000.

“Latest figures show that more than a quarter of a million Syrian refugees (253,106 people) have now been registered in the surrounding region, or are awaiting registration,” Edwards said. He added:

The complexity of the crisis is one of the aspects which sets it apart and the speed with which people have fled Syria.
The fact that 100,000 people had fled the country into neighbouring countries in the space of a month made it “an extraordinary acceleration of this crisis.

UN figures show that 85,197 refugees are registered in Jordan, with a further 35,961 awaiting processing. Jordanian officials say almost 30,000 refugees live in Zaatari, where unrest erupted last month over living conditions.

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Jordan has said it needs $700 million in international aid to cope with the influx of refugees.

Guterres noted on Tuesday how Jordan over the years has taken in refugees from Palestine and Iraq in “successive waves of 2.7 million refugees.”

The UN says more than 1.2 million Syrians, over half of them children, have become internally displaced in the country while an estimated 250,000 refugees sought shelter in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Syrian filmmaker killed in Aleppo: opposition >

Read: UN peace envoy says Syria death toll is ‘staggering’ >

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