Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie on Sunday afternoon joined UNHCR chief António Guterres on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where they will meet boat people who have fled unrest in North Africa.More than 40,000 people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have crossed the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats and descended on the small island since the beginning of the year. Many were economic migrants from Tunisia, but some are people in need of international protection, including refugees from sub-Saharan Africa and Libya.Italy has moved most of them to the mainland, but some have been returned to Tunisia. Jolie and Guterres will visit detention facilities on Lampedusa and see the crowded conditions faced by new arrivals.The UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador flew to Lampedusa from Malta, which has also been a destination for people fleeing North Africa by boat. She visited Lyster Barracks, a former Royal Air Force facility and now a detention centre for asylum-seekers, many of whom who have fled the violence in Libya. They include Somalis, Ethiopians and others from sub-Saharan Africa.“Malta has saved many lives, but it is the daily conditions on the ground that are of most concern,” Jolie said in Malta on Sunday morning. “We’ve spent time today speaking with the government and will spend more time talking about how, together, we can make the conditions more humane, especially for the children.“We’ve spoken about our shared concerns about making sure asylum claims are processed as quickly as possible so no-one is sitting in a prison-like situation and waiting on a decision about their status, ” she added.Many of the people Jolie met in the barracks told her that they had been working in Libya to make money to remit to their families back home. One man referred to Libya as the heart of Africa, where they were able to work. “Now it is on fire and Africa is crying,” he said.The people said they had never attempted to come to Europe before, they just wanted a place where they were safe and could work. But when the war escalated in Libya, they ran out of options. “They are not asking to go to any particular country, they just want to find safety to work, and to have freedom,” Jolie stressed.Women thrust their hands through bars and shook hands with the actress. “I just want freedom,” they all said.Jolie praised Malta’s coastguards, saying they had “saved thousands of lives over the years and should be commended for that. They should now be given support from the international community to handle this continuing situation,”The Goodwill Ambassador also visited an open centre near Malta’s main airport where vulnerable asylum-seekers are living in tents inside an old aircraft hangar while their asylum claims are assessed, The people she met there said living conditions were difficult and they were concerned about the pools of fuel on the ground and rats chewing their tents.

36 notes + 3 years ago
  1. outlander-sassenach reblogged this from iheart-jolie
  2. ohhtee reblogged this from iheart-jolie
  3. mysovereignty reblogged this from iheart-jolie
  4. taracroft reblogged this from iheart-jolie
  5. iheart-jolie posted this