Angelina Jolie Writes Impassioned New York Times Op-Ed About Iraq Trip, Syrian Refugees: “I Was Speechless”

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie wrote an op-ed about her visit to Iraq for the New York Times, calling on the international community to take action to assist the millions of Syrian refugees SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

Days after Angelina Jolie was photographed on a visit to northern Iraq, the Unbroken director has written an impassioned op-ed about her trip for the New York Times. In it, she describes the devastation she witnessed in refugee camps and calls for action to help the millions of displaced Syrians and Iraqis who no longer have a home.

"I have visited Iraq five times since 2007, and I have seen nothing like the suffering I'm witnessing now," she writes in the op-ed, published by the Times on Tuesday, Jan. 27.

"For many years I have visited camps, and every time, I sit in a tent and hear stories," she explains. "I try my best to give support. To say something that will show solidarity and give some kind of thoughtful guidance. On this trip I was speechless."

As previously reported, the mom of six visited the Khanke Camp for Internally Displaced People on Sunday, Jan. 25. While there, she spoke with victims of ISIS — some of whom she describes in her Times op-ed.

"What do you say to the 13-year-old girl who describes the warehouses where she and the others lived and would be pulled out, three at a time, to be raped by the men?" the Maleficent star and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees questions. "When her brother found out, he killed himself." 

She continues: "How can you speak when a woman your own age looks you in the eye and tells you that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she now lives alone in a tent and has minimal food rations?"

Angelina Jolie in Iraq

The piece goes on to detail the increasingly dire situation in Syria, noting that neighboring countries "have taken in nearly four million Syrian refugees, but they are reaching their limits."

With that in mind, Jolie calls upon the international community to take action. "What does it say about our commitment to human rights and accountability that we seem to tolerate crimes against humanity happening in Syria and Iraq on a daily basis?" she asks. 

"It is not enough to defend our values at home, in our newspapers and in our institutions," she writes. "We also have to defend them in the refugee camps of the Middle East, and the ruined ghost towns of Syria."

Read Jolie's op-ed in full at the New York Times.

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