Angelina Jolie has called on the international community to ramp up relief efforts and find a political settlement to the Syrian conflict. The actress, appointed as a UNHCR Special Envoy in April 2012, visited refugees last week as part of awareness-raising efforts around World Refugee Day. Accompanying the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, they spoke with Syrians in the ever-enlarging Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan, the second-largest camp in the world, that houses 120,000 refugees.
“The international response to this crisis falls short of the vast scale of this human tragedy,” she said in a statement released by UNHCR. “I pray that all parties in the Syrian conflict will stop targeting civilians and allow access to humanitarian aid. I appeal to world leaders to set aside your differences, unite to end the violence, make diplomacy succeed. The U.N. Security Council must live up to its promises.”
The population of Syria is 18 million—which means that one-third of all Syrians are currently displaced. In Lebanon, a country of 4 million, over 500,000 displaced Syrians are trying to find work and survive. As a result, wages are plummeting, tensions are rising, and poor Lebanese envy the free food and medicine given to Syrians.
However, in spite of the increasing darkness of the tragedy, Lebanon is an shining example of generosity in the midst of countries burdened by the refugee crisis. “You call them refugees,” one mayor in southern Lebanon reported to the New York Times, “We call them neighbors.” Another mayor of a town was filled with Syrian refugees said, “This is a call for rescue. Can anyone hear it?”
– John Mahon