UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie today called for the urgent establishment of a ceasefire in Yemen and a lasting settlement to the conflict. She welcomed recent discussion of a halt to hostilities, and called on the United Nations Security Council, working with countries in the region, to find a negotiated end to the conflict and to uphold international laws on the protection of civilians. She appealed for greater understanding of refugee protection laws, and for all countries to play their part in alleviating the human suffering in Yemen.
Jolie is currently visiting South Korea, where several hundred Yemenis are being hosted after fleeing the conflict.
She said: “As an international community we have been shamefully slow to act to end the crisis in Yemen. We have watched the situation deteriorate to the point that Yemen is now on the brink of man-made famine, and facing the worst cholera epidemic in the world in decades. When conflict develops to this extent, many people have no choice but to flee if they are to have any chance of survival. The only way to enable refugees to return home, and to bring down the overall numbers worldwide, is to end conflicts themselves. I hope there can be greater understanding of the human realities causing people to flee, the strict legal criteria and process by which refugee status is determined by UNHCR, working with national authorities, and our shared responsibility to assist refugees until they can return home. Without a global response based on international law and collective responsibility, we risk much greater instability and insecurity over the long term, which would have a negative impact on all countries.”
Angelina Jolie is in South Korea in her role as a Special Envoy for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, advocating for vitally needed support for refugees globally. Her visit to Seoul follows that of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on 23-24 October.
Meeting with South Korean Justice Minister Park Sang-ki, who heads the ministry responsible for domestic refugee policies, Jolie expressed appreciation for South Korea’s efforts to help around 500 Yemenis who arrived in the country’s tourist island of Jeju in May. She acknowledged the importance of the thorough procedures and vetting in place as well as efforts to provide protection until the time when they are able to safely return to their country of origin. She also expressed UNHCR’s wish to work more closely with the Korean authorities on strengthening their asylum system.
Angelina Jolie conveyed UNHCR’s thanks to the people of South Korea for their support to refugees worldwide. The private sector in South Korea is donating millions, largely from some 230,000 generous individual donors, demonstrating South Koreans’ strong sense of solidarity with refugees and UNHCR. She noted that South Korea, with its own history of overcoming war and displacement and as one of the largest economies in the world, has the potential to play an important leadership role in the region. Jolie also welcomed South Korea’s recent efforts to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In Seoul, the Special Envoy also met South Korean actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jung Woo-sung. They discussed the recent public concerns in Korea over the arrival of Yemenis in Jeju, as well as their respective missions with UNHCR. Jolie was a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador from 2001-2012 before she was appointed Special Envoy for the organization. Jung became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador for Korea in 2015.