x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Angelina Jolie becomes a special envoy for the UN

The United Nations refugee agency has elevated the Hollywood star from being a goodwill ambassador to a special envoy, a role that will see her represent the organisation at a diplomatic level to governments and dignitaries.

Angelina Jolie visited Afghanistan as a goodwill ambassador for the UN in 2011. She has also visited refugee camps in Iraq, Haiti and Pakistanamong other places.
Angelina Jolie visited Afghanistan as a goodwill ambassador for the UN in 2011. She has also visited refugee camps in Iraq, Haiti and Pakistanamong other places.

GENEVA // After a decade of promoting refugee causes around the world, Angelina Jolie has been promoted.

The United Nations refugee agency has elevated the Hollywood star from being a goodwill ambassador to a special envoy, a role that will see her represent the organisation at a diplomatic level to governments and dignitaries.

It is the first time the UN refugee agency has named a special envoy, said Adrian Edwards, its spokesman. Elsewhere in the global body such posts are usually reserved for career diplomats or retired politicians.

"Her work does go substantially beyond what we would typically see as being the normal role of a goodwill ambassador," Mr Edwards said in Geneva. "I don't think you need a rocket scientist to see the benefits that she is bringing in terms of the attention that she is getting for the plight of the world's displaced."

Ms Jolie has flown around the world on behalf of the organisation over the past ten years, making high-profile visits to refugee camps in Iraq, Haiti and Pakistan, among other places.

Apart from her time, Jolie has also given large personal donations to the organisation, which relies entirely on voluntary contributions from governments, companies and individuals.

"She has donated substantially to refugees," said Mr Edwards, noting that the actress and director will not receive any money for her role. "There is to my knowledge absolutely no connection between any donation of money and this role."

Ms Jolie's new position will focus on the complex crises that result in the mass displacement of people, such as in Afghanistan and Somalia. In addition, on special occasions she will represent the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Antonio Guterres.

"That can mean conveying messages to governments. It can mean conveying messages to other people and partners that we work with," said Mr Edwards.

UNHCR works to help almost 35 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. It was established to aid millions of Europeans displaced during World War II and has since become one of the world's most prominent humanitarian organisations.