Angelina Jolie, who has played the role of a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees since 2001, has been appointed special envoy, announced the refugee agency on Tuesday.
The Oscar-winning actress' new role will mean she will represent the organization to governments and diplomats, said the Associated Press. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said it was the first time the agency had named a special envoy.
Edwards said, "Her work does go substantially beyond what we would typically see as being the normal role of a goodwill ambassador," according to the AP. "I don’t think you need a rocket scientist to see the benefits that she is bringing in terms of the attention that she is getting for the plight of the world’s displaced."
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Jolie will be dealing with complex crises that involve numerous civilians being displaced from their homelands through conflict, said Reuters. She will focus on cases such as Afghanistan and Somalia which have seen millions of refugees flooding into neighboring states, fleeing conflicts with no easy solution.
In her capacity as goodwill ambassador, Jolie has already made 40 field visits to conflict-stricken areas in countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan, according to Reuters. The UNHCR noted that she has donated at least $5 million to build schools in Kenya and Afghanistan.
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Jolie's engagement to Brad Pitt was announced last Friday, after years of speculation. The couple have six children, three of whom were adopted from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam.
Edwards said, "This is an exceptional position reflecting an exceptional role she has performed for us."
In October 2011, Jolie said, "My personal experiences with UNHCR have been moving, sometimes heartbreaking, but always rewarding and unforgettable," according to Reuters.
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