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UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie DCMG at the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) event in London, 13 March 2017.
Courtesy of Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Citizenship

Angelina Jolie Urges World to Wake Up to Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Millions of people around the world are affected by crisis and conflict every day. While visiting Yemeni refugees in Jeju, South Korea, Angelina Jolie called on Yemen to end its three-and-a-half-year civil war. She asked the world to support affected civilians and refugees. You can join us on taking action on this issue here.

Angelina Jolie has called on the United Nations Security Council to back a “lasting ceasefire” in Yemen. 

The humanitarian addressed the country’s conflict while meeting with leaders in South Korea Sunday, UN News reports. She had just visited the country’s Jeju island, where roughly 500 Yemeni refugees have been seeking asylum since May to escape the country’s civil war. During the meeting, Jolie said the world has been too slow to respond to the crisis and turned a blind eye as the situation worsened. She asked for international support for the people of Yemen, and all refugees.

Take Action: Step Up to Support Migrants and Refugees!

The actress is in South Korea representing the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as part of her role as special envoy. 

“As an international community we have been shamefully slow to act to end the crisis in Yemen,” she said.

Yemen’s civil war has pushed 14 million people to the brink of starvation, according to NBC News. Jolie noted the Middle Eastern country is also dealing with the worst cholera epidemic in the world in decades and advocated for refugee protection laws.

Jolie’s South Korea trip follows a recent visit to Peru in October, where she urged the world to support Venezuelan refugees who are fleeing economic turmoil in their home country.

“I hope there can be greater understanding of the human realities causing people to flee,” Jolie continued on Sunday. 

Read More: Almost Half of Brits Have No Idea This 'Forgotten War' Exists

Yemen has been in civil war since 2015, when the Houthi rebels began trying to overtake the country’s internationally recognized government. Saudi Arabia intervened and led a group of Arab states to start a military campaign aimed at putting Yemen’s government back in power. Ever since, deadly airstrikes have hit essential infrastructure like schools and hospitals, killing 10,000 people. The UN called Yemen’s civil war the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Jolie pushed the United Nations Security Council to introduce a negotiated end to the conflict by working with countries nearby to ensure international laws are honored to protect civilians.

“Without a global response based on international law and collective responsibility, we risk much greater instability and insecurity over the long term, which would have a negative impact on all countries,” she said.

Read More: This Yemeni Father Transformed His Home Into a School for 700 Children

During her visit, Jolie met with South Korean Justice Minister Park Sang-ki, who leads the domestic refugee policy ministry. On behalf of UNHCR, she thanked the country for protecting a few hundred Yemeni refugees in Jeju. She also discussed public concerns in Korea over the Yemeni refugee presence with the South Korean actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jung Woo-sung. Not all South Koreans have welcomed the refugee community — their arrival has also sparked xenophobic protests led by conservative Christians against the predominantly Muslim group.  

“The only way to enable refugees to return home, and to bring down the overall numbers worldwide, is to end conflicts themselves,” Jolie reminded