Angelina Jolie traveled to Lebanon to visit thousands of Syrian refugee children

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This ^^ is the new interview Angelina Jolie did with Tom Brokaw for the Today show. It’s all about Unbroken and WWII. Angelina and Louis embracing each other… perfection. Tom Brokaw referring to Angelina as Louis’s “girlfriend” is amazing too.

Anyway, Angelina was in Lebanon yesterday to meet with the Lebanese prime minister about the epic Syrian refugee crisis. She’s actually in Lebanon as part of three-day trip in her capacity as UNHCR Special Envoy, and she attempting to draw even more attention to the state of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. You can see some photos of Angelina here, and you can read the UNHCR press release here.

Angelina Jolie made a surprise visit to Lebanon to draw attention to the challenges facing thousands of Syrian refugee children and to highlight the massive displacement Syria’s three-year conflict has created, officials said Monday.

During a three-day visit, U.N. special envoy Jolie visited unaccompanied children living in the eastern Bekaa Valley, where much of the poorest Syrian refugees in Lebanon reside, as the United Nations Refugee Agency Special Envoy. The 3,500 children are those who were orphaned, or separated from their families as they fled into Lebanon.

They form part of the nearly one-third of all Syrians who have been displaced from their homes since an uprising against the President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. About 2.5 million Syrians have become refugees; and another 4.2 million are displaced within Syria, the U.N. estimates – some one-third of the country’s pre-war population.

‘Meeting these children was a heart-rending experience,’ said Jolie in a statement issued via the U.N. ‘They have lost their families and their childhood has been hijacked by war. They are so young, yet they are bearing the burdens of their reality as if they are adults.’

The tiny Mediterranean country of Lebanon, which neighbors Syria, has absorbed nearly one million refugees, swelling the country’s population by one-fifth. The concentrated numbers of refugees have overwhelmed Lebanon’s infrastructure, raised rents and flooded the public health and education systems throughout the country. The poorest refugees huddle in tents made out of old billboard advertisements on land they rent out from farmers in the Bekaa Valley; the shelters offer little against the country’s bitter winters and hot summers.

Parents of thousands of Syrian children have pulled them out of schools, because they cannot afford the modest Lebanese school fees, or because they need them to work – often as shoe shiners and car cleaners.

During her visit, Jolie called on the international community to ensure the implementation of a recent U.N. resolution that called for humanitarian assistance to reach Syrian civilians. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding immediate access everywhere in Syria for humanitarian aid. The resolution, which marked a rare instance of unity on the security council, doesn’t threaten sanctions but it does express the council’s intention to take ‘further steps’ if the resolution isn’t implemented

Jolie said her meeting was also to thank Lebanon for hosting the refugees.

‘The generosity and solidarity shown by Lebanon and Lebanese to its neighbor serves as an example to the world for which we should all be grateful. We all need to help them bear this burden,’ Jolie said.

[From The Daily Mail]

No matter what she does, people will always be critical of Angelina for many parts of her life. But I’ve always had so much admiration for her UNHCR work, and I think she operates as special envoy with a great deal of compassion and intelligence. This is not some charity bandwagon issue – Angelina’s focus has been consistently on the plight of refugees (often in areas of the world without a lot of media attention) for going on 14 years.

You can donate to the UNHCR here.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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95 Responses to “Angelina Jolie traveled to Lebanon to visit thousands of Syrian refugee children”

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  1. Secret Squirrel says:

    Angelina does put her money where her mouth is when it comes to helping others, but I can’t help but think if this is all leading up to another adoption… I have no problem with that mind you, except celebs seem to be able to “jump the queue” when it comes to meeting criteria and adopting kids from foreign countries. Money talks.

    She has a good heart though and genuinely cares about the people who have a tough life.

    • HappyMom says:

      She hasn’t adopted for many years-and has made several trips to a variety of places where she hasn’t adopted from-so I don’t really see this as the case.

    • Miffy says:

      Well it won’t be a Syrian baby. There are very strict laws preventing the adoption of children from a region in active crisis as a way of tackling human trafficking. And there’s no jumping the queue in those situations.

    • V4Real says:

      Maybe she’s the modern day Josephine Baker of adopting kids. But if that is her plan another kid’s life would probably be saved.

      Just like I don’t have the right to tell people how to spend their money, I also don’t have the right to tell people who and where they should adopt. That being said I wish celebs like AJ would also realize that there are kids in America that need good homes as well.

      • The Original G says:

        I’m sure that Angelina realizes that.

      • Algernon says:

        It’s easier to adopt from abroad these days, unfortunately. I, too, wish there was a greater emphasis put on domestic adoption, but I’ve heard so many horror stories. Even in my own life, me and all my siblings were adopted and they were all closed adoptions (meaning the birth parents shouldn’t have been able to track us down). And yet my brother’s birth mother contacted him (against his wishes), my birth family (not actual parents but bio-mom’s parents) attempted to have my adoption declared invalid because *they* didn’t sign off on it, which lead to years of painful legal battles, and another sibling had a bio-uncle show up at her school and try to take her away. At least my brother and I were in our teens when our bio-fams reared their heads, my little sister was in kindergarten. Even though my parents–and they are my parents!–did everything right and checked every box and had every legal waiver, permission and agreement they needed, all of our bio-families were still able to barge in and attempt to destroy our family.

        And unfortunately, that’s not uncommon. One cousin of mine adopted her daughters and in one case was not able to get a closed adoption and so she’s basically raising her daughter and her daughter’s teenage bio-mom, who was granted open visitation which means she can show up whenever she wants and demand time with my cousin’s daughter. Another cousin wanted to adopt domestically but found the process too thwarting (especially after witnessing everything my family went through) and so decided to become a foster parent, instead. It’s actually easier to foster than adopt!

        I’m not saying no one should ever try domestic adoption or shouldn’t support it but keep in mind that it is very difficult. It’s hard to adopt internationally but the pathways are often much more streamlined and once the bio-parent gives up legal rights to the child, that’s it. They can’t come back from it. Here, it’s too common for a bio-parent to be able to change their mind years down the line and wreck a family (as my brother’s bio-mom tried to do).

      • Oh, geez, Algernon. I do want to adopt, but I hope I don’t go through all that drama.

        I’m in Michigan, and I did talk to a adoption counselor (or whatever they’re called) a couple of months ago, because I wanted to know what I had to do to prepare, before I even started the process. In Michigan, it actually seems pretty easy–unless they’re going to gut you during the home visits. In MI, you can be on public assistance, you have to be over eighteen, you don’t have to own your own home–just have to have enough rooms for all the kids i.e. if you adopt a boy and a girl, you need two rooms for them, and you have to have a job. And she also told me that it was easier to adopt if you fostered first, which I’m not sure it’s something I want to do, because I wouldn’t want to give them back.

        But I want to adopt foster children, not babies in private adoptions, so maybe that’s why it’s easier???

      • Miffy says:

        @Algernon, wow, that’s intense, to say that least.

        Here in Ireland it seems just lately there’s a real resurgence of women attempting to find their children who had been put up for adoption against their will (something that was practiced up until the 80′s here, young teenage/unmarried mothers having their family and the clergy take away their babies and never hearing another word of it). I had always wondered, while these women suffered barbarically at the hands of a right-wing hive mind, surely it should be the child’s decision to find their bio-parents?

        Totally off topic but Algernon’s story moved me.

      • Algernon says:

        @VirgiliaC

        I think it is easier to adopt after fostering because you’ve already cleared a lot of the hurdles to get your home ready for fostering in the first place, and also I think the attitude shifts once a kid is in the system to “get this kid out of the system”. My cousin who is a foster-mom has started proceedings to adopt one of her kids, and so far it seems to be going smoothly. The key is just to make sure you know what your rights are if the bio-fam ever makes an appearance.

        @Miffy

        I’m sympathetic to the plight of those mothers. That’s basically what happened to my brother’s bio-mom. Her ultra-conservative parents forced her to give him up for adoption even though she didn’t want to. She tracked him down years later and had a lawyer contact us first but my brother declined to meet her. But she showed up anyway, which is when I stopped feeling bad for her. She laid a huge guilt trip on my brother and screamed at my parents for “stealing” her child (they had no idea what her circumstances were). I’m not saying all disenfranchised mothers would be like that (few would, probably), but to me, if the child doesn’t want to meet you, then I’m sorry but you’re going to have to live with that. It’s a bad situation all around with no easy answers or solutions, unfortunately.

      • Janet says:

        @ Algernon: I can’t believe your biological grandparents thought they had the right to cancel your adoption because they hadn’t signed off on it. I worked in foster care and adoption for many years and can state categorically that the only situation in which the grandparents have any legal standing at all is if the birth mother is a minor. Even then, they can’t force the birth mother to give up the child if she doesn’t want to. Any surrender for adoption obtained through force, fraud, duress or coercion is illegal.

        @Miffy: It’s a sensitive situation all around. Some birth parents don’t want to be found. I used to work with a woman who tracked down her birth mother and practically blackmailed her into meeting her. Her birth mother was married with children and none of them knew she had given up a child for adoption 30 years ago. The woman I worked with was very proud of herself for being able to find her birth mother and seemed to think she had some kind of divine right to disrupt her birth mother’s life like that.

      • mayamae says:

        @Algernon, I think there is the perception that foreign adoption eliminates the fear of bio family coming after the baby. Unfortunately, there was a time in the US when bio moms figured out that naming the father as “unknown” on the birth certificate left open the opportunity for bio dad to make a claim once one or both of the bio parents changed their minds. There were two extremely high profile cases of this happening, in each case the bio father (who was back with bio mom) was given custody of the child. I have no idea if this loophole still exists.

        BTW, I’m adopted too and of course your parents are your real parents. Doesn’t it drive you crazy when celebrity’s children are endlessly described as “adopted”?

      • Algernon says:

        @Mayamae

        I agree. I don’t know if it actually *is* easier but it seems that way. My cousin who is a foster mom did look into international adoption and she said while it’s still very expensive, it is way faster (with some countries). I don’t think the “unknown father” loophole still exists, at least, not in that form. My cousin who adopted her daughters had to wait a couple years for her eldest daughter’s adoption to be finalized while the state looked for her unnamed father. I guess there’s a statute of limitations? Like if you don’t come forward within a certain period of time your rights are forfeited. I didn’t quite understand it but the delay was about making sure there were no other family members to impede the process.

        @Janet

        Yeah, we couldn’t believe it either. Their daughter got pregnant in college and they said they never knew until she told them all those years later, but if they had known they totally would have taken me and raised me as their own, and they felt deprived of their rights, which still doesn’t make much sense to me. It was a strange and confusing time, I think largely because I’m part of the first generation of adopted kids in which adoptions were really called into question. Before the 1980s and 1990s, I don’t think it was so contentious. In fact, I’m pretty sure my grandparents “adopting” my aunt was pretty much them taking in a child abandoned in the great depression and just saying she was theirs. I’m not totally sure they actually adopted her. But now, thanks to all these crazy precedents, adoption has gotten a lot harder.

      • PoliteTeaSipper says:

        Algernon, my family has been going through difficult times with this as well. My husband is 32, has never wanted to meet his bio parents, but his bio mom showed up out of nowhere and is essentially demanding to have a mother-son relationship with him now, even bringing over his half siblings to our house and sitting in our yard. All this comes right on the heels of his (real!) father’s death. One of my coworkers has also been stalked by a girl she gave up for adoption 20 years ago and she tearfully told me that she now wishes she’s had an abortion. Her husband and kids from her current marriage had no idea about this and her sudden appearance has thrown her whole family into upheaval. I can understand and respect birth parents/children wanting to reconnect years later and everyone involved is fine with it (and mature, and stable!) but the current mess we’re dealing with right now has caused so many problems and hurt.

      • Malak says:

        She has said she doesn’t see borders.

      • pru says:

        Small side note on grandparental rights in adoption: I believe in order to adopt from Native American nations, tribal law is observed. So grandparents need to to “sign off” on adoptions just like parents before it’s legal.

    • basil says:

      Are u trolling ‘secret squirrel?’ How does this post even have a ‘but,’ with it? Also re your theory…Angelina has made over a half dozen trips annually for the last 14 years, she and Brad adopted Pax 7 years ago, so it’s fairly ugly to attach ulterior ‘adoption’ motives to her philanthropy.

      If you want to believe celebrities don’t have to jump thru hoops -heigl, bullock, theron, and hundreds more included – when they adopt that’s fine it’s your opinion, but it’s woefully uninformed..because unless you know the specifics of how, when and where they applied to adopt, the process they went through – inferring they did something wrong (or are about to) in a post that’s meant to bring awareness to the plight to struggling refugees trying to survive in a hot bed where they could starve or be killed is pretty unconscionable.

      Also common sense: If Angelina wanted to jump to the front of the line and adopt she could do that while sipping a marguerita on a beach or shopping on rodeo dr. – no need to be a relentless philanthropist representing the UN and have to put on a flak jacket and risk getting killed herself.

      • V4Real says:

        Come on now Squirrel can have her opinions without being called a troll. AJ is a great humanitarian and we applaud her for all her efforts in this matter; I don’t think anyone is denying that.

        I agree that this is a post about a woman who is trying to bring enlightment about the plight of struggling refugees but it’s also a gossip site.

      • Blue says:

        @v4r

        Come on, this post is about Angelina visiting and trying to help refugees as she has been doing for 14 years if someone is going to throw shade on her for trying to help these poor people as a way to jump the adoption queue they are going to be called on it gossip site or not.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        No, I wasn’t trolling, just commenting. I also wasn’t throwing shade at Angelina. I actually like Angelina’s family of many nations. My comments were tongue-in-cheek as I think it is okay to still have a sense of humor even when the subject is a serious one.

        I’m a bit bitter as I tried to adopt once, and was told that because I was single (was in a relationship when I started the process) that I was no longer eligible as I couldn’t stop working to raise a child. It bothers me that celebs (some of whom are single at the time of adopting) seem to have different rules. I haven’t forgotten there was a model who once adopted and within a month or two, had to hand the kid back because she couldn’t handle it. A perfect case of the system letting the children down because money was more important than suitability. I would have loved to have given a child with no family a loving home with me, but I am out of the running now. Instead I have chosen to sponsor a child through a charity so I can still try to help improve a young life. I have also “adopted” an Orangutan in Borneo, so my causes extend to helping animals too!

        However, this isn’t about adoption, it is about highlighting the plight of refugees and Angelina is doing a great job of reminding the world that there is horror and cruelty in the world still. I appreciate her efforts and the fact she puts herself into these situations to see the problem first hand rather than sitting back in her luxury home and pretending to understand what it must be like.

      • @Squirrel
        Aww, I’m sorry. Do you have kids now? Maybe it’s just different in Australia. I know that in foreign adoptions, involving Americans that they don’t let unmarried couples adopt together, and they don’t let single men adopt (because of trafficking). In Domestic adoption, it doesn’t matter if you’re single or not……I hope you can adopt one day, if that is what you still want. I don’t understand that condition. I would hope that they would want the kids to go to great homes, instead of staying in the system all their lives..

        I also wonder–does your country have a program where you can ‘adopt’ kids who are 18 i.e. out of the system????

    • Samantha25 says:

      Haters are a trip. Claiming that Angelina does charity just to adopt is ridiculous. She’s been doing this for at least 15 years. You don’t work for the UN and visit some of the most desperate places in the world for an adoption. These baby collecting comments are stupid too. Angelina has 6 kids and haven’t adopted or given birth in about 5 years. How is she trying to be like Josephine Baker who had twice as many kids who were mostly adopted?

  2. lisa2 says:

    Let me say I so appreciate her dedication. Not in just visiting a place once but her follow through.

    I made a donation to UNHCR and hope that it will help in some way. So sad for those people and anyone that has had to flee their home; especially children that have lost everything. Parents and home.

    • LadyMTL says:

      On behalf of my step-family (who are from Damascus originally and who still have family in Syria), I just want to say thank you. It is an incredibly tragic situation and any little bit helps immensely. I applaud Angelina for her humanitarian work and I applaud you for caring enough to donate. :)

    • littlestar says:

      I am very glad Angelina is bringing attention to the Syrian refugees. What is going on in Syria is disturbing (I watched a CBC report a few weeks ago about some refugees starving to death) and it’s mindboggling how the world/media isn’t paying much attention anymore. The world is a f*cked up place :( .

  3. Miffy says:

    She is amazing. I don’t care if that’s gushing or ass-kissy but the way she utilises her celebrity for refugees in particular is stunning.

  4. Catk says:

    Ugh, I hate the girlfriend thing. Condescending. Like when younger people call older women “young lady.”

  5. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I didn’t know much about her until I started reading this blog. I am still startled by the amount of violent love and hate she stirs in people. But I’ve come to admire her very much and to see that her beauty is much more than skin deep.

  6. Andrea1 says:

    After all said and done, I am proud of this woman Angelina Jolie!

  7. kdlaf says:

    It might be my Brangeloonie showing but I feel like this woman has lead at least five different lives – its so fascinating to watch. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that household. So much passion, drive, and beauty – inside and out. I cant imagine what lies ahead for her career in 10 years.

  8. TheOriginalKitten says:

    I saw snippets of her interview with Brokaw on The Today Show this morning. She was lovely, as was Louis Zamperini.

    It’s interesting to see the gracious, eloquent woman that Jolie has become and think about some of the more…peculiar moments of her past. One thing is for certain, from the vial of blood worn around her neck to her humanitarian projects–this woman is so hugely empathetic, she feels things so strongly-whether it be pain, love or sadness. Jolie’s passionate and yes, sometimes eccentric behavior are just two facets of an incredibly complex personality that I find completely and utterly fascinating.

    While I have stated many times that I’m not a huge fan of her acting, she is undoubtedly one of the most unique and interesting women in modern-day society.

  9. Frida_K says:

    I haven’t seen Tom Brokaw in forever and it surprised me here…he’s gotten quite venerable and seems frail. It was moving to watch him and Louis with Angelina, the two older gentleman who are so marked by the world-changing events of generations past.

    And she is just so beautiful. Not just on the outside, but on the inside too.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I love Tom Brokaw. It’s strange to see that generation aging, isn’t it? They were always there, and looked pretty much the same for so long.

      Agree with what you said about AJ.

      • The Original G says:

        From AOL

        LOS ANGELES (AP) — NBC News says veteran newsman Tom Brokaw has cancer.
        The network says Brokaw was diagnosed in August with multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting blood cells in the bone marrow. Doctors are optimistic about his treatment.
        In a statement released by NBC, Brokaw says he remains the luckiest guy he knows, and he looks forward to continuing his life and his work. He says he wants to keep his illness a private matter.
        Brokaw turned 72 on Feb. 6.
        The onetime national news anchor is a special NBC News correspondent, and NBC says he has continued to work on projects during his treatment.

      • mayamae says:

        Multiple Myeloma is bad news. I lost a grandfather and an uncle to it, and currently have one uncle in remission. Interestingly, it was once thought of as a cancer with no biological connection, therefore my surviving uncle received cutting edge treatment in Atlanta as part of a study which now realizes there is a familial link. Last I researched (about two years ago) there is no cure.

    • Esmom says:

      Sad to say but Brokaw made an announcement recently that he’s being treated for incurable cancer. :(

      Glad that he’s still working, I’m sure it helps him cope.

  10. Robino! says:

    I love reading stories about her work. She seems so dedicated, compassionate, and always interested in doing what she can for areas of the world that most of society have no clue what’s going on. But I also hate reading stories about her because girlfriend makes me feel like a slug. ;)

  11. ashley says:

    Good for angelina,other celebs should take notes.

  12. Bea says:

    What a lovely interview – they truly do have a remarkable love and respect between them and they are so lucky to have found each other. Angelina seems completely smitten with him and I can’t blame her. He seems to be so charming and true gentleman with such beautiful eyes.

    I have so much respect for Angelina and the work she does around the world. Between my job, my husband and kids (and dogs, cats, hamsters, etc), I can really only donate about 3-4 hours a week volunteering so I’m not sure how she does it. Yes, she has help but they are not acting, directing and traveling for her.

    And of course – on a totally shallow note – I can’t wait to see what she wears this weekend at the Oscars (and the Independent Sprit Awards, maybe?).

    After all, that life that she has to live (Hollywood) allows her to be able to live the life she loves (UN).

  13. OH MY GOD.

    Angelina and Louis Zamperini = Me and Guy Caspary (my WWII vet neighbor)

    Seriously, even Mr. Caspary calls me ‘honey’. This is so CUTE! Louis seems like such a sweetheart.

    If I wasn’t going to see this, I am now. I’m also trying to think about maybe writing something about Mr. C’s time in Italy–he was an engineer, and he helped build bridges, got rid of landmines, etc….it would have to be fiction, as he hasn’t really spoken about his time, other than to say what he did, and that his best friend died very shortly after arriving in Italy.

    Also–who’s the lead actor? He is HOT. Like, old fashioned hot. Which is the best, imo. Any dude who can wear a suit and suspenders…

  14. Diana says:

    Remarkable woman. That’s all.

  15. laura says:

    She is an amazing woman as her mom was. You can see she truly cares and is the epitome of a true hollywood star with a big heart. Very touching video, and also remarkable man…

  16. claire says:

    I don’t have anything more to add to all the favorable things people have said above about her. I just think she’s great and she’s by far one of my favorite celebs. I just wanted to comment that I think it’s too funny, the little tidbit, that all these years, before they knew each other, he’s been looking down on her house from his backyard.

  17. LaurieH says:

    Popped home for lunch; busy day at the office, so I hopped onto Celebitchy for a little afternoon diversion and what do I see? Angelina Jolie flies to Lebanon to address the crisis of Syrian refugees, while Kim Kardashian drives to her dermatologist’s office go address the crisis of stretch marks on her boobs. ::::::sigh:::::::

  18. Lizzy1013 says:

    THAt is how you give a short speech Duchess Kate!!! Takes notes, or better yet leave the notes at home and speak from the heart!!!

  19. Fan says:

    I admire her so much for that. What an amazing woman. I think deep inside she loves her dad so dearly and her dad knows that.