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Angelina Jolie Visits Iraq Less Than A Year After Liberation From ISIS, And The Images Are Devastating

Angelina Jolie Visits Iraq Less Than A Year After Liberation From ISIS, And The Images Are Devastating
(Andrew McConnell / UNHCR / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Angelina Jolie served as a special envoy to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and visited the city of west Mosul less than a year after it was liberated from ISIS.

The actress took in the devastation of the city left in ruin and met with the denizens placed in refugee camps. Reconstruction is slow, and her mission was to remind the world that the destitute families are not to be forgotten.

According to the UNHCR, the trip marks Jolie's 61st mission – and her fifth to Iraq – with the UN refugee agency since 2001. She arrived on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday signifying the end of Ramadan.

The actress and activist spoke in front of the bombed al-Nuri Mosque and commented on the horrific conditions in the aftermath of a city previously under seize by Daesh militants for three years.

This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years working with UNHCR. People here have lost everything: their homes are destroyed. They are destitute. They have no medicine for their children, and many have no running water or basic services. They are still surrounded by bodies in the rubble. After the unimaginable trauma of the occupation, they are now trying to rebuild their homes, often with little or no assistance.

Jolie was moved by the determination of citizens doing everything they can to clear the rubble and start anew, but she emphasized they can't do it alone.

I have no words for the strength it must take to rebuild after loss like this. But that is what the people of this city are doing. They are grief-stricken and traumatized, but they are also hopeful. They are clearing their homes with their own hands, and volunteering and helping each other. But they need our assistance.

The city of Mosul was occupied by ISIS since June 2014 but reclaimed after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in July 2017. But Jolie insisted that the real work to restore the city starts now.

We often tend to assume, as an international community, that when the fighting is over, the work is done. But the conditions I observed here in West Mosul are appalling. Displacement is still happening. The camps near the city are still full. Whole areas of West Mosul remain flattened. Enabling people to return and stabilizing the city is essential for the future stability of Iraq and the region.

Jolie was lauded for her ongoing humanitarian efforts.

Jolie continues to channel her energy into philanthropy and doing her part to make the world a better place. Last March, she advocated for the United Nations and gave an impassioned speech in Geneva. Unafraid of exploring uncharted territory, she also gave her first lecture at the London School of Economics last September at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security.

She even wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about refugee policy.

With more humanitarian work ahead of her, Jolie continues to prove that not all superheroes wear capes.

H/T - Enews, UNHCR, Twitter, CBSnews