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Angelina Jolie-Pitt On The Refugee Crisis: "Strength Lies In Being Unafraid"

Photo: REX
Today the actress, director and activist Angelina Jolie-Pitt warned that the global system for handling refugees is breaking down. The 40-year-old United Nations refugee agency’s special envoy gave a keynote speech in London as part of the BBC’s World on the Move, a day of programming focusing on global migration issues.

Having travelled the world meeting people who have fled their countries because of war and persecution, Jolie-Pitt opened her speech by telling the assembled audience that today 60 million people are displaced, which is one in every 122 people.

“This tells us something deeply worrying about the peace and security of the world… The average time a person will be displaced is now nearly 20 years."

Jolie-Pitt went on to say that the "number of conflicts and scale of displacement had grown so large" the current system could no longer protect refugees and return them home when it was safe, and that the UN refugee agency was under-funded.

"With this, then, the state of today's world, is it any surprise that some of these desperate people, who are running out of all options and who see no hope of returning home, would make a push for Europe as a last resort, even at the risk of death?" she continued.

We are now looking at the highest rate of displacement in 70 years, and Jolie-Pitt warned that isolationism is not the answer to the crisis: “It would be naive to think that we can protect ourselves selectively, alone, from challenges in a globalised world, by pulling away from other countries or peoples. An unstable world is an unsafe world for all. If your neighbour's house is on fire you are not safe if you lock your doors. Isolationism is not strength. Strength lies in being unafraid. Fragmentation is not the answer."

She finished her 20 minute speech by urging world leaders and communities to work together. "Whether we succeed will help define this century... the alternative is chaos."
You can listen to the full speech on BBC Radio 4 here.