Angeline Jolie is in the refugee news again. We’ve posted on her trips to visit refugees before; see here for a list. She is a UN Goodwill Ambassador, whatever that is, and I’ve remarked before on how sensible she is. At a time when seemingly everyone involved with Iraqi refugees, including the UN, was saying that the solution to the problem was resettling them in the west — especially in the U.S. — she pointed out the obvious: that they needed to be taken care of where they were and returned to Iraq when it was possible.
We see how right she was in the continuous reports of the troubles Iraqi refugees are facing in this country. Ann has kept on top of this; see our Iraqi refugees category for details. Since Iraq has become pacified, there is more emphasis on resettling the refugees back in Iraq.
Jolie visited some internally-displaced (IDP) refugee families in Baghdad under the auspices of the UN, the San Francisco Chronicle and many other news sources report. That’s a category we don’t hear much about, since American refugee agencies don’t get involved in Iraq’s internal affairs. The Chronicle says:
Jolie observed some changes in conditions since her last visit, but admitted a lot still needed to be done before the refugees could return to normality.
She noted, “There are some changes. There are returns of displaced people, not a big number, but there is progress. This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives.”
Jolie has vowed to return to do all she can to help refugees rebuild their lives, telling the families, “I want to come back and find you in a better place and in a different situation. We hope that UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the government will support you in getting a piece of land. You need help not because you are poor, but because you are the future of Iraq.”
As far as the overall picture of internally-displaced persons in Iraq goes, Reuters reports:
An estimated 1.6 million Iraqis remain uprooted within the country, while another 300,000 have returned to their homes amid a general improvement in security in the past year, UNHCR said. Syria and Jordan say that they have registered some 2 million Iraqis who have fled their country, but UNHCR says these are not all refugees or necessarily residing in those countries.