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UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie carried out an official visit to Peru in late-October 2018, undertaking a three-day mission to assess the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans. Jolie met refugees, government representatives and organizations contributing to the response.
Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo/UNHCR
Citizenship

Angelina Jolie Joins Fight for Venezuelan Refugees


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Millions of people around the world are affected by crisis and conflict every day. After visiting Peru, Special Envoy for the United Nations Refugee Agency Angelina Jolie urged the world to support Venezuelan refugees who’ve fled the country’s economic turmoil. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.  

Angelina Jolie is calling on the world to step up for Venezuelan refugees.

The humanitarian and actress spent three days in Peru, where many Venezuelans have fled to escape the country’s collapsing economy, AP reports

Take Action: Step Up to Support Migrants and Refugees!

During her visit, Jolie went to a refugee shelter in the capital city of Lima and stopped at a border crossing point. 

“Every Venezuelan I met described the situation in their country as desperate,” Jolie, the special envoy for the United Nations Refugee Agency, reported during a Tuesday press conference on her final day in the country. “None of the Venezuelans I met want charity. They want an opportunity to help themselves.”

She also heard stories about Venezuelans who lack medical care. 

"The message that I heard consistently was, ‘We didn't want to leave, we had to leave.' After having spoken to so many people, it is clear to me that this is not movement by choice," Jolie explained of the crisis, which she described as “shocking” “predictable and preventable.”

Read More: Venezuela's Crisis Has Put Women and Children at Higher Risk of Being Trafficked

In a statement released by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) after the conference, the Academy Award winner also recounted meeting a former Venezuelan lawyer who now has to work in a T-shirt factory in Peru to provide for his family back home. 

Read More: 'Education Is a Key': Angelina Jolie Pens Heartfelt Op-Ed on Refugee Children

Jolie, who has worked with Syrian refugees in Iraq as well, mentioned the larger refugee issue at hand in her statement. She wrote there are currently 68.5 million people who have been displaced worldwide, meaning one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds because of persecution or conflict.

According to the United Nations, the situation in Venezuela has reached crisis level — 1.9 million people have left Venezuela since 2015. Nearly 400,000 have moved to Peru. 

Jolie met with Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on her visit to come up with ways to help those affected by the crisis and gain international support. She thanked Peru for cooperating with Venezuelans to make sure they become legal residents and asked other countries to follow their example. 

“As in nearly every displacement crisis, the countries that have fewer resources are being asked to do the most,” she wrote in the statement. Many migrants have also fled to Ecuador, and Chile. 

Despite seeing these numbers, the Venezuelan government refuses to admit there’s a migrant crisis and claims other countries are making the situation sound more extreme so they have a reason to intervene. According to UNHCR, it’s the biggest population movement Latin America has experienced to date.