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Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett voice concerns on World Refugee Day

OUAGADOUGOU: US actress Angelina Jolie on Sunday visited a refugee camp in Burkina Faso sheltering thousands of Malians fleeing violence in the region.

The 46-year-old was at Goudebou, in the north-east of the landlocked west African country, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20, as part of her role as a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ).

"I have marked this day every year for 20 years with refugees in different countries," she said after her visit.

"I have never been as worried about the state of displacement globally as I am today. The truth is, we are not doing half of what we could and should to find solutions to enable refugees to return home - or to support host countries, like Burkina Faso, coping for years with a fraction of the humanitarian aid needed to provide basic support and protection."

An attack in March last year forced some 9,000 refugees, sheltering there despite previous raids, to flee and caused the camp's de facto closure.

Since last December, the Burkinabe authorities and the UNHCR have been relocating the refugees there, having stepped up security at the camp.

This year's World Refugee Day offers a chance to reflect, added Australian actress Cate Blanchett, a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR, as the world grapples with the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 52-year-old said: "We have been forced to confront what uncertainty feels like and that is the situation the majority of refugees live with, year in, year out.

"There is kind of an opportunity... to think about how we have dealt with uncertainty and perhaps place ourselves in the shoes of mothers and fathers and doctors and lawyers who have been, through no fault of their own, displaced and have been living with, for often for upwards of 18, 19 years, in that state that we have been dealing with for 18 months."

DOUBLED

In its annual report released last Friday, UNHCR said the number of people forced to flee their homes from conflict, persecution and human rights abuses had doubled in the past decade to reach 82.4 million at the end of last year.

"These numbers are not going away, but the numbers are so great that we can often forget about the human face," said Blanchett, who has addressed the UN Security Council on the Rohingya refugee crisis.

"There has been a lot of fear-based rhetoric around the notion of people who have been forcibly displaced, either internally or outside their own country," she said.

"World Refugee Day could not come at a better time because we can think about how we can collectively build a stronger and safer and more humane world and that being inclusive is a superhuman power." - AFP, REUTERS

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