On April 30, Angelina Jolie traveled to the city of Lviv, in Ukraine, as the country is bombarded by Russian forces invading the terrain. Jolie’s surprise visit is part of a “private humanitarian fact-finding mission focused on the needs of children” that is trying to show support for Ukrainian civilians and “bear witness to the human impact of the conflict,” according to a press release published by Reuters.
Jolie is no novice to humanitarian efforts, being a UNHCR Special Envoy for Refugees and a frequent traveler to countries in turmoil caused by war.
“I’m humbled to witness the resilience and courage and dignity of the Ukrainian people in the face of the terror and trauma of a war they did not choose,” said Jolie in the statement. “The impact the war is having on a generation of Ukrainian children is devastating to see.”
While in Lviv, Jolie visited a train station where both children and adults volunteers are working with citizens who have been displaced. The relief effort offers psychiatrists, who have said they each see up to fifteen people a day. Jolie and her aides had to leave when air raid sirens began to sound.
“They must be in shock,” Jolie said of the children she met. “I know how trauma affects children, I know just having somebody show how much they matter, how much their voices matter, I know how healing that is for them.”
In her statement, she added, “No child anywhere should have to flee their homes, or witness the murder of their loved ones, or experience shelling and the destruction of their homes. Yet that is the reality of so many children in Ukraine and around the world.”
The AP reports that the regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy spoke of her visit to a local boarding school as well on social media platform Telegram, meeting more kids affected by the war.
“She was very moved by (the children’s) stories,” Maksym wrote. “One girl was even able to privately tell Ms. Jolie about a dream she’d had…Plenty of people who saw Ms. Jolie in the Lviv region could not believe that it was really her.”
After meeting doctors and other volunteers on her trip, Jolie is using the experience to advocate for countries to open for the safe passage of Ukrainian civilians and to make it easier for humanitarian aid to reach those who remain. And she reminded readers in her statement that their situation is not unique across the globe.
“There are well over 84 million people displaced globally at this moment, over half of them children, who also must not be forgotten,” Jolie explained. “The outpouring of support for the Ukrainian people globally is an opportunity to recommit to the right to security and equality of all people, and to building a stronger United Nations that is better equipped to prevent conflict and uphold basic human rights, whether in Ukraine or in any other part of the world.”
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