Angelina Jolie was honored at the United Nations Refugee Agency Awards ceremony held in Geneva, Switzerland on Oct. 3.
She was recognized for her work as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in the last 10 years. She also presented the Nansen Refugee Award to the Yemeni aid group Society for Humanitarian Solidarity. The next day, she announced plans for a new role to deal with the refugee crisis.
At the ceremony, the actress was overcome with emotion and fought back tears as she came on the stage.
“Most of all I’m so grateful – I don’t want to cry – to the refugee families that I have the honor and privilege to spend the last years with,” Jolie said. “From them I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned to be a better person, a better mother. They’ve inspired me by showing me the unbreakable strength of the human spirit.”
Speaking the next day at the UNHCR’s governing Executive Committee’s annual meeting, Jolie said, “Today, three-quarters of a million people are at risk of death in the next four months in the Horn of Africa. The work we are doing needs to scale up to meet the needs of these individuals. How we continue to respond to this period of malnutrition and famine is going to define the work of those NGOs, governments, and international organizations working in the Horn of Africa. It will, quite starkly, determine whether a huge number of people live or die.”
Reuters reported some UNHCR sources to be saying that she could be named as Special Representative on the Afghan refugee situation, to help resolve the fate of 2.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran.
Jolie later confirmed talks for her new role. However, she stated that nothing had been finalized yet.
Jolie has been an active goodwill ambassador for the UN ever since the announcement in August 2001. She has been to 20 different countries, including as Afghanistan, Chad, Pakistan and Sudan, as part of her duties.