In a body where “Special Envoy” titles are reserved for only the most seasoned diplomats, an unprecedented first occurred in New York recently to one of Hollywood’s most vibrant luminaries and humanitarians. After a decade of promoting refugee causes around the world, Angelina Jolie herself has been promoted.
The United Nations refugee agency has elevated the Hollywood star from being a goodwill ambassador to a special envoy, a role that will see her represent the organization to governments and diplomats. Jolie has jetted the world on behalf of the organization over the past ten years, making high-profile visits to refugee camps in Iraq, Haiti and Pakistan, among other places in dire need.
Apart from her time, Jolie has also given large personal donations to the organization, which relies entirely on voluntary contributions from governments, companies and individuals.
“She has donated substantially to refugees,” said spokesman Adrian Edwards, noting that the actress/director won’t receive any money for her role. “There is to my knowledge absolutely no connection between any donation of money and this role.”
Jolie’s new position will focus on the complex crises that result in the mass displacement of people, such as in Afghanistan and Somalia. In addition, on special occasions she will represent the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres.
The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights works to help almost 35 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. It was established to aid millions of Europeans displaced by World War II and has since become one of the world’s most prominent humanitarian organizations.