Category: UNHCR

Angelina Interviews Vanessa Nakate about Activism and the Power of African Voices

For Time, Angelina interviewed climate activist Vanessa Nakate about the topics of activism and the Power of African voices.

TIME100 talked to UNHCR special envoy Angelina and climate activist Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, 23, for an interview which will be published in the TIMES issue on July 20. You can watch the entire interview above. Read on for some snippets:

The work you’re doing is really teaching all of us because, as you know more than anyone, the conversation about the climate crisis has been very limited to a few voices. How did you get involved?

Before my graduation, I started carrying out research to understand the challenges that people [in my community] were facing, and I was really surprised to find that climate change was actually the biggest threat facing humanity right now. I realized every part of my country, Uganda, is affected by the climate crisis: when you go to the north, the people are suffering with long dry spells; when you go to the eastern part of the country, they’re suffering with landslides and floods. I decided that I had to become a voice in the climate movement and try to get justice.

Often you hear people are going hungry because of conflict or bad governments. But it’s often linked, as you point out, to climate.

Some of the conflicts arise from shortages in resources. For example, Lake Chad, in Africa, has shrunk to a tenth of its size in just 50 years. The population keeps growing. So there is definitely going to be a struggle for resources. And this will disrupt the peace in the area. When you look at the root of all of this, sometimes it starts [with] climate change.

Climate activism is not easy in many places, but you’re in a place where you could be arrested. You are really very courageous to do what you do.

It is not easy to go out there, especially in the beginning when I was doing these strikes by myself. My family didn’t really understand what I was doing. Most of my friends found it very, very weird. But later on, many of them started understanding why I was doing this. And some of them decided to get involved.

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Vogue Interview – Angelina Discusses Adopting Journey of 3 of Her Children

In an exclusive Vogue interview, Angelina reflects on her two decades working with the United Nations refugee agency and discusses the adoption journey of three of her children: Maddox, Pax and Zahara.

Angelina has spent almost two decades working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), first as a goodwill ambassador and as of 2012, special envoy, in light of her dedication to the cause. “I found myself a student at their feet,” Jolie tells Vogue. “I have learned more from refugees about family, resilience, dignity and survival than I can express.”

So what does the role of UNHCR special envoy entail? In addition to bringing much-needed attention to major crises that result in mass population displacements, Angelina represents the agency and commissioner at a diplomatic level. “My work now involves fighting alongside my colleagues for refugees to have rights and protection, to resist forced returns, and to push for better learning opportunities,” she explains. “UNHCR is a protection agency. We help those who have fled war and persecution, who’ve had their rights violated.”

Ahead of World Refugee Day — an international day designated by the United Nations (UN) to honour refugees around the globe today, on June 20, — Vogue spoke to Angelina about her work with UNHCR and how it has transformed her perception of motherhood.

UNHCR’s raison d’être is to save lives, protect rights and build a better future for refugees. What is it about these causes that speak to you personally?

“I see all people as equal. I see the abuse and suffering and I cannot stand by. Around the world, people are fleeing gas attacks, rape, female genital mutilation, beatings, persecution, murder. They do not flee to improve their lives. They flee because they cannot survive otherwise.

“What I really want is to see an end to what forces people out of their homelands. I want to see prevention when we can, protection when needed and accountability when crimes are committed.”

According to UNHCR, the world now has a population of nearly 80 million forcibly displaced people—the highest on record. In your years working with UNHCR, you’ve witnessed the dramatic increase first hand. What have been the main causes?

“I see a lack of will to protect and defend basic human rights, and a lack of diplomacy and accountability. A lot of people profit from the chaos of broken, dependent countries and it sickens me. We also see leaders spread fear for political gain, and nationalism rising — anger at ‘the other’.

“But on the other hand, I also see amazing generosity towards refugees in many countries and extraordinary strength and resilience from refugees themselves. And it is not a hopeless picture. Just five conflicts account for two-thirds of all cross-border displacement — Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. Change the dynamic there, and we change the picture for global displacement.”

Before the pandemic, you were doing a lot of work in Venezuela and Bangladesh. Can you tell us about some of the things you witnessed there and what the situation is now?

“I saw people at their most human, who’ve been through unimaginable violence or hardship, and who are just trying to take care of their families. Any of us would do the same in their situation. Like all of us, they want to be safe, they want to have a home, and they want to be free.

“The realities for refugees or displaced people are extremely hard. They are often victims of rape and sexual abuse. They are struggling with the same kinds of illnesses you find in any community during peacetime, but without access to the healthcare you or I would be able to rely on.

“And then, refugees often live in tents in camps that are extremely exposed to the elements. Last month, refugees in Bangladesh were hit by a cyclone.”

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Angelina’s TIME Article about Refugee Crisis Getting Worse

Angelina Jolie published an article on TIME, talking about the world’s refugee crisis being bad and constantly getting worse.

Angelina is known as a TIME contributing editor and has published yet another article today, June 18. You can read the entire article below:

As the burning injustice of discrimination and racism in America bursts to the forefront, we must also address persecution and oppression rising globally, depriving millions of their rights, their liberty and their physical safety.

The U.N. Refugee Agency has published its latest annual report on the state of human displacement in the world and it is stark reading. Nearly 80 million people — the highest number since records began, according to available data — have been forced from their homes by extreme persecution and violence, and are living as refugees, asylum seekers or people displaced within their own countries. For the first time, forced displacement is affecting more than one percent of humanity, or 1 in every 97 people.

These are people fleeing attacks on schools and hospitals, mass sexual violence, the siege and starvation of whole cities, the murderous oppression of terrorist groups, and decades of institutionalized persecution based on religion, gender or sexuality.

It is not just the overall number of forcibly displaced people that is shocking. More people are being forced to leave their homes on a larger scale in more places and at one of the fastest rates in living memory. Global displacement has almost doubled since 2010. The number of refugees in sub-Saharan Africa has tripled in the same period. And the number of countries where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is working to support internally-displaced people has gone from 15 in 2005 to 33 today. This is before the full economic devastation of COVID-19 strikes, threatening hunger and starvation and deeper insecurity for millions.

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Angelina Reunites with RefuSHE Alumna Chantale Zuzi for World Refugee Day

As UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Reunites with RefuSHE Alumna Chantale Zuzi for World Refugee Day.

You can watch the full Zoom video call on Harper’s Bazaar’s website.

On a Zoom call shared exclusively with BAZAAR.com, Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy to the UN Refugee Agency, reconnected with Chantale Zuzi, a refugee she met in Kenya three years ago who has since been resettled in the United States. Zuzi is an alumna of the community for Nairobi refugee girls known as RefuSHE, which will host an online fashion competition in honor of World Refugee Day, celebrated on June 20, 2020. Zuzi was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where she faced persecution for her albinism and tragically lost both her parents before she was a teenager. She was resettled in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2018 through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program. Now 18 years old, Zuzi is staying home with her foster moms, Deborah and Alisa, finishing up her junior year of high school remotely, and putting the sewing skills she learned at RefuSHE to use making masks to help protect against COVID-19 in her free time. She dreams of studying art and international development at Columbia University and working for the United Nations one day.

Angelina attended her first first fashion show on World Refugee Day during a visit to the RefuSHE safe house for separated and orphaned girls and young women in Nairobi, Kenya, three years ago.

Angelina and Zuzi are both looking forward to RefuSHE’s next fashion show, Fashion Challenge: Reimagined, an interactive virtual design competition set for next week. Hopefully, with the new digital format, “More people will learn about the work, and the program, and the designs and all of the good,” says Angelina.

Seven young designers from Chicago, where RefuSHE has its U.S. offices, will compete by each creating a unique runway look that incorporates hand-dyed fabric made by seven members of RefuSHE’s Artisan Collective. The contestant-muse pairings are as follows: Concetta Cipriano and Solange, Amy Fenderson and Aimé, Taylor Graves and Clementine, Fraley Le and Cecile, Lagi Nadeau and Marth, Xochil Herrera Scheer and Bersherb, and Kate Van Asten and Jessica.

The show will be screened live next Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. CDT, with voting open to the public, and the winner to be announced on World Refugee Day, the following Saturday, June 20. Scarves in the same prints as those seen on the runway will be available for purchase on RefuSHE’s online shop, with 100 percent of proceeds reinvested into the Artisan Collective and its members.

We added screen captures of Angelina during the Zoom video call to our photo gallery.