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Angelina Jolie visits Iraqi Kurdistan, urges open borders for
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Angelina Jolie visits Iraqi Kurdistan,
urges open borders for Syria refugees
US actress and UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie is
surrounded by Kurdish security during her visit to
the Domiz Syrian refugee camp in Duhok, Kurdistan
region of Iraq. September 16, 2012. Photo: AFP/Sadin
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Angelina Jolie shares a laugh with the prime
minister of Iraq's Kurdistan regional government
Nechirvan Barzani during a visit to Erbil, the
capital city of Kurdistan region of Iraq, September 16, 2012. Photo:
September 16, 2012
DOMIZ CAMP/DUHOK, Kurdistan region 'Iraq',—
Angelina Jolie, the Special Envoy for the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, travelled to the
Kurdistan Region on Sunday to visit refugees in
camps along the Syrian border and to discuss with
Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani the help
provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.
Citing the $10million allocated by the KRG to
provide for the needs of the refugees, the Prime
Minister said, “We have not received any support
from Baghdad, but of course this has not caused us
to delay our aid. Instead of waiting for the support
of the Federal Government, we have provided
immediate assistance to those who have sought
shelter with us.”
Hollywood actress Jolie called for Syria's
neighbours to keep their borders open to refugees,
during a visit to a refugee camp in Iraq's
autonomous Kurdistan region.
"The most important thing is cooperation from the
countries on the (Syrian) border... and to make sure
these borders in all countries stay open," said
Jolie, a UN refugee agency (UNHCR) special envoy.
"I've been of course very encouraged to be here and
hear the government speak of continuing this
wonderful, life-saving open border policy," she told
reporters at the Domiz refugee camp in Duhok
"I know how gracious the Kurdish government and the
Kurdish region people have been to the Syrian
The three-province region hosts the majority of the
Syrian refugees in Iraq.
According to the UNHCR Syria Regional Refugee
Response website, there are 25,508 registered Syrian
refugees in Iraq,www.ekurd.net
of which 16,833 are in Duhok province.
Another 10,914 Syrian refugees are awaiting
registration, putting the total at more than 36,000.
The UNHCR has said more than 250,000 Syrian refugees
have been registered in neighbouring countries.
The total number of Syrians who have fled the bloody
civil war between supporters and opponents of
President Bashar al-Assad is even greater.
"With the continuation of the bloodshed in Syria, we
have to all be prepared for a greater influx (of
refugees), and I'm so happy to hear that the
government is continuing to commit to these people,"
The actress, who has been on a tour of countries
bordering Syria, arrived in a white UN helicopter,
then travelled to the camp by pickup truck.
She stepped out of the vehicle near the camp, waving
to the whistling, cheering crowd of Syrian refugees
that greeted her.
"I have been to the four borders of Syria, and this
is the first camp I have been to where they are
already preparing for winterisation, and also where
there are ID cards, giving freedom of movement,
which is an extraordinary thing," Jolie said.
A statement on UNHCR's website said she had met
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Displacement and
Migration Minister Dendar Najman in Baghdad.
"Combined with the new influx of Syrian refugees and
the sudden return of over 30,000 of their own
citizens, the complexity of the situation and the
challenges for this country just emerging from
conflict cannot be overstated," the statement quoted
Jolie as saying.
In April 2012, Ms Jolie was appointed Special Envoy
of the UNHCR, before which she served for several
years as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR. The
famous Hollywood actress has been a very strong
public advocate for human rights.