During a 2009 visit to Iraq as Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie spoke with internally displaced families, including this little girl.
During her day-long visit to Baghdad, Jolie visited a makeshift settlement for internally displaced people in the Chikook suburb of north-west Baghdad where she met four families displaced from the district of Abu Ghraib, located to the west of Baghdad, and from the western suburbs of the capital.
Despite the difficulties in Iraq, Jolie said this was a moment of opportunity for Iraqis to rebuild their lives. “This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives.”
The families that Jolie met complained that their children could not go to school and they could not afford to pay for medical treatment for various ailments. 43-year-old Ali* built his crude brick dwelling in Chikook after escaping from Abu Ghraib district with his 38-year-old wife and six children four years ago.
“The only help that we got was from UNHCR. They are the only people who knocked on our door. But look at this life, it’s very hard on us,” he said. “It takes a lot of strength for you to survive this life. I don’t know if I would be strong enough to survive this,” Jolie told him.
In a nearby house, the acclaimed actress met a family of nine, including children who don’t go to school and a baby with a rash all over its body. Jolie rocked the new-born on her lap throughout the visit. A daughter-in-law studied law before the violence forced the family into flight and ended her education.
“No way,” the family said in unison when asked by Jolie if they wanted to return to their former home district. “Our neighbours returned and their three daughters were killed,” the daughter-in-law, Salwa,* said. “Why is this happening to us?,” she asked.
“The picture in this camp is a rough one but there are also some people that were able to return home to other safer areas,” Jolie said later. “There are some changes. There are returns of displaced people, not a big number but there is progress.”
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