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UNHCR envoy Angelina Jolie urges Rohingya refugees to be patient

  • Published at 05:20 am February 4th, 2019
Angelina Jolie speaks with a child at a Rohingya camp in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar on Monday, February 4, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The Hollywood actor is in Bangladesh on a five-day visit

Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie visited a Rohingya camp in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, to assess the humanitarian needs of the refugees and some of the more critical challenges Bangladesh is facing as a host country.

On the first day of her five-day visit to Bangladesh, the special envoy of the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) arrived at Cox’s Bazar on a chartered flight around 10:30am on Monday.

She will stay here till Wednesday, before leaving for Dhaka. This is her first ever visit to Bangladesh.

After arriving at the 21st refugee camp at Chakmarkul camp under Whykong union around 2pm, Jolie spoke to numerous Rohingya men and women who had fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine state facing brutal persecution since August 2017.

Rohingya leader Rashid Ullah said the special envoy of the UN refugee agency spent a long time with at least 30 women, who were victims of abuse, sexual assault, and torture, and many children from the camp’s Block D, in the afternoon.

“An emotionally charged Jolie embraced the rape victims after hearing their inhumane experiences. She also urged all to be patient,” he added.

Zahir Ahmed, another Rohingya youth who lives at the camp’s Block G, said Jolie visited a Brac community centre first after entering the camp, and talked to its officials, Rohingya leaders, and representatives of other NGOs.

He said she spent three hours in the camp before leaving for her hotel at Inani, where she will stay till Wednesday.


UNHCR envoy Jolie, who focuses on major forced displacement crises and has carried out 60 field missions so far, is scheduled to visit the Kutupalong Extension Rohingya Camp 4 at Ukhiya around 11am on Tuesday.

According to UNHCR, Kutupalong camp, which shelters more than 620,000 Rohingyas alone, is the largest refugee settlement anywhere in the world at present.

There, she will also meet refugees, other officials from UNHCR and  other organizations, including Brac and Relief International.

Apart from this, she is also expected to visit initiatives of various donor organizations and NGO-operated healthcare establishments in the camp, before briefing the media.

After her Cox’s Bazar visit, Jolie will conclude her trip following official meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in Dhaka.

Hollywood actor and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie arrives in Cox's Bazar on Monday, February 4, 2019 | Dhaka TribuneDuring the meetings, she will discuss how UNHCR can best support the current response led by the Bangladesh government, and the need for safe and sustainable solutions to the plight of one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, according to the UN refugee agency.

It said Jolie’s visit comes just before the launch of a new appeal for the humanitarian situation in Bangladesh – the 2019 Joint Response Plan – which seeks to raise some $920 million to continue meeting the basic needs of the Rohingya refugees and the local communities hosting them.

For the cause

Jolie, who represented UNHCR as a Goodwill Ambassador from 2001 to 2012, has also met with displaced Rohingyas during prior visits to Myanmar in July 2015, and to India in 2006.

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie seen walking along the runway of Cox's Bazar Airport following her arrival with other officials on February 4, 2019 | Dhaka Tribune 

She was appointed special envoy of the refugee agency in April 2012 after years of dedicated service to the cause.

More than 730,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh after violence erupted in Myanmar in August 2017 following attacks and counterattacks between insurgents and security forces.

As a result, Bangladesh is now home to over 1.1 million Rohingyas, including the 400,000 who crossed the border in the past.

Last year, on May 21, Bollywood superstar and Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, Priyanka Chopra, also visited the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar.

Earlier in 2017, Angelina Jolie had expressed her desire to visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar after learning about the abuse of Rohingya women by Myanmar security forces.

At that time, a Foreign Ministry press release had said that Jolie was planning to visit Bangladesh to meet Rohingya women who are victims of sexual assault and abuse. But her trip was rescheduled four times due to various reasons.

As a UNHCR envoy, Jolie represents the agency and its high commissioner at the diplomatic level, engages with decision-makers on issues of global displacement, and helps to find solutions to the crises.

Due to her work, she has become an influential advocate for refugees and internally displaced people over the years.

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