Hollywood star Angelina Jolie declared her separation from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, leaving behind their relationship of the past two decades, six months after criticizing the agency for responding inadequately to human rights issues.
In a joint statement issued by Jolie and the UNHCR on Friday (local time), she stated that she was grateful for working with the United Nations for the past two decades, adding that it is time for her to leave. Describing refugees as the ones she respects most, she promised to interact directly with local refugee groups and do her best to support their advocacy.
The New York Times reported that she decided to leave the UNHCR, presumably due to the agency’s poor response to human rights violations. A close friend of Jolie on anonymity told the news that she believes she can make better use of her time with a larger group of people outside of the U.N.
Jolie wrote in U.S. weekly magazine TIME in commemoration of World Refugee Day in June, “Because of the way the U.N. was set up, it is tipped towards the interests and voice of powerful nations at the expense of those people suffering the most from conflict and persecution whose rights and lives are not treated equally.” She argued that the U.N. only caters to the interests and voices of strong countries. Starting to work with the UNHCR in 2001, Jolie was appointed a special ambassador working actively until recently by visiting more than 60 conflicting zones across the globe, including Afghanistan and Myanmar, and calling for international attention to refugee issues. UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi commended Jolie as one of the most influential advocates for the rights of refugees, expressing his gratitude for her engagement in service, sacrifice, and all the changes made for refugees for the past couple of decades and confirming his support of her continued effort to help refugees.