Hollywood star Angelina Jolie on Tuesday traveled to Iraq and Syria to appeal for more international support for the millions of people uprooted by the war and violence in Iraq.
Jolie met with some of the 1,200 Iraqis stranded on the border between Iraq and Syria and spent hours speaking with Iraqis now living in Damascus, before crossing into Iraq to witness first hand the plight of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
"I have come to Syria and Iraq to help draw attention to this humanitarian crisis and to urge governments to increase their support for UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) and its partners," said Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the agency.
"My sole purpose in both countries is to highlight the plight of those uprooted by the war in Iraq," she added.
Jolie spoke to refugees stuck in Iraq's makeshift Al Waleed camp, and later watched scores of Iraqis crossing into Syria at a border checkpoint.
"It is absolutely essential that the ongoing debate about Iraq's future includes plans for addressing the enormous humanitarian consequences these people face," she said after visiting the camp.
While in Iraq, Jolie left UNHCR officials to visit privately with U.S. and other multinational forces based in the area.
Jolie arrived in Syria on Monday, where she spoke to some of the thousands of Iraqi refugees registering with UNHCR. Nearly one quarter of all Iraqis in Syria are victims of violence and torture, according to the agency.
Jolie's trip was organized weeks in advance at her request, a UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid Van Genderen Stort said. Jolie is scheduled to leave Syria on Wednesday.
UNHCR released statistics Tuesday indicating that two million Iraqi refugees have fled to neighboring states and 2.2 million have been displaced inside Iraq. Tens of thousands are now unemployed.
In late July, UNHCR and UNICEF launched a joint 129 million dollar education appeal aimed at getting 155,000 young Iraqi refugees throughout the Middle East back into school. The United States announced Tuesday that it will contribute 30 million dollars to the appeal.