Angelina Jolie's mission was focused on the humanitarian situation of thousands of refugee families in Greece, most of whom were forced to flee Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Close to 85% of all the refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in Europe landed in Greece since January 2015.
It is her first visit to Greece on behalf of UNHCR.
She reiterated UNHCR’s support to Greece in the expansion and coordination of protection and assistance to refugees, the strengthening of registration and asylum procedures, and the upholding of essential international protection and refugee law standards and the implementation of the EU relocation program.
The visit was focused on:
“I am here to reinforce efforts by UNHCR and the Greek government to step up the emergency response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation. I look forward to meeting authorities, partners and volunteers working on the ground to improve conditions and ensure the vulnerable are protected.”
At this time, UNHCR was supporting the authorities in Greece who are responsible for the reception, registration and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers arriving on their territory.
Angelina Jolie finished her mission to Greece with meeting of volunteers, NGOs and local authorities engaged in emergency response efforts on the island of Lesvos, and speaking with refugee families.
On Lesbos, she also visited Moria registration centre where, by this time, 2,800 refugees and asylum seekers were temporarily housed, to hear directly from families about their situation and their experiences. 95% of the refugees in Moria are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. She urged refugees to ensure they register with the Greek authorities and work through the formal asylum system.
Angelina Jolie held talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. She reiterated UNHCR’s offer of support to increase protection and assistance to refugees, to support reception, and to support access to asylum and the EU relocation programme.
Angelina Jolie spoke at the end of her visit: “I look forward to UNHCR being able to enhance its support to the Greek authorities in coordinating the humanitarian response, and together with partners, support efforts of the authorities to ensure effective registration as well as access to asylum and relocation, with particular attention to those who are the most vulnerable.”
“I want to thank the Greek people for their understanding and generosity in the face of difficult circumstances, and the efforts of the volunteers and local organizations I met during my visit. They and many others are working around the clock to receive and care for refugees arriving in Greece. This needs to be matched by an international response equal to the scale of the global refugee crisis, which includes ending the conflict in Syria but must go far beyond that.”