Monday, December 3, 2012

Angelina Jolie, William Hague to fight warzone rape

Angelina Jolie with a Syrian refugee in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley  in September

The fight against warzone rape got a big boost this week. Actress and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague have joined forces to fight warzone rape, most notably in Syria.

Speaking exclusively to Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman, Jolie explains why she can’t stay silent on warzone rape as the UK prepares to send an expert team to Syria to gather evidence and support rape victims.

William Hague to Channel 4 News on why rape in conflict matters
Hague told Channel 4 News a British team will enter Syria shortly, to support the growing number of women who are raped as the country continues to fight the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

He said he wants to emulate his hero, anti-slave trade campaigner William Wilberforce, by embarking on a mission to stamp out sexual violence. "The team will first be deployed to help Syrian refugees, I won't say exactly where for their safety,” Hague told Channel 4 News.

"This is a team of 70 people, doctors, lawyers, forensic experts, psychologists and they will have their first deployment to help Syrians fleeing the conflict, which has included sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war, to train local medical experts to gather medical evidence that can be used so that prosecutions can one day take place."

Angelina Jolie talks to Channel 4 News on war, rape and her UN role

Angelina Jolie has campaigned against rape as a weapon of war for many years. She has visited Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and called for an end to the violence in Syria, now in its 21st month.

Speaking to Channel 4 News on Saturday, Jolie said: "I think it (the deployment of British experts) must be done.

"I work a lot with refugees and you meet the people and they immediately want to start talking, they want to know what's happening to their future. They want to participate and put on record what is happening in the country.

"They want things not to be missed, they want to know one day they will be able to go home and there will be accountability. It matters to them emotionally and it matters to the future of their country on a legal level that they will be able to find some justice and move forward and have their basic human rights protected."

Asked whether she was thinking of giving up acting, Jolie replied, "Of course. I think I'm going to have to give up acting as kids hit the teenage years because there is going to be too much to manage at home."

She added, "But I have enjoyed being an actress... I will do some films. I'm so fortunate to have the job. It's a very lucky profession to be in. But if it went away tomorrow, I would be very happy to be at home with my children."

Jolie said, "I wake up in the morning and turn on the TV like everyone else and I see what is happening in the world. I want to be a part of the world in a positive way."

Jolie conducted more than 40 field visits around the world for the UNHCR, starting as a Goodwill Ambassador in 2001 and now as a Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The total number of Syrian registered refugees and individuals awaiting registration is 465,823 as of November 29, according to UNHCR. They are now living in camps and temporary homes inside Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.
Jolie visited Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq in September and witnessed Syrians crossing into Jordan, becoming refugees before her eyes.
"The amount of innocent children that have been reported dead, the amount of innocent children I've met here who are wounded and unaccompanied -- with their parents being killed and now they're on their own -- it's impossible to imagine any mother standing by and not stepping up and doing something to prevent this," she said then.