Hollywood actress and activist Angelina Jolie has visited the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and urged the international community not to forget the residents now that actual fighting has ended.
“This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years working with UNHCR,” said Jolie, who has served as a special envoy for the UN refugee agency since 2001.
“People here have lost everything. Their homes are destroyed. They are destitute,” she added, speaking in front of the Al-Nuri Mosque on the second day of Eid al-Fitr -- a holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“I call on the international community not to forget Mosul, and not to turn their attention away from its people. We have learned in Iraq before and elsewhere in the region the dangers of leaving a void,” the American actress said.
Jolie met with displaced families and walked among bombed-out buildings that line the streets of the crowded Old City. Many of the estimated 900,000 residents who fled during fighting have attempted to reestablish their lives in the ruins of the city.
The UNHCR said many of the residents “suffered nearly unprecedented levels of psychological trauma” from the air strikes, artillery barrages, snipers, and cross fire during the battles and continue to suffer to this day.
The visit was Jolie’s fifth to Iraq and her 61st mission for the UNHCR, the agency said.