Angelina Jolie met Syrian refugee families living in squalid conditions in Lebanon, on the fifth anniversary of the Syrian war.
The five-year conflict has fuelled the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, with 4.8 million Syrians forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries and a further 6.6 million displaced inside the country.
“On this day, the fifth anniversary of the Syria conflict, that is where I had hoped to be - in Syria, helping UNHCR with returns and watching the families I have come to know be able to go home. It is tragic and shameful that we seem still so far from that point.”
She called on governments to find diplomatic solutions to the crisis, and to look at what more they themselves can do to provide safety to those fleeing persecution and war.
The Special Envoy said: “We are at an exceptionally difficult moment internationally, when the consequences of the refugee crisis seem to be outstripping our will and capacity and even our courage to respond to it.”
She went on to say “we cannot manage the world through aid relief in the place of diplomacy and political solutions,” adding that, “it is not a time for emotion. It is a time for reason and calm and foresight.”
“Leadership in this situation is about doing more than simply protecting your borders or putting forward more aid,” the Special Envoy said. “My plea today is that we need governments around the world to show leadership, to analyze the situation, to understand exactly what their countries can do, how many refugees they can assist and how.”
“I have seen on this visit just how desperate the struggle to survive is now for these families after five years in exile. Any savings they had have been exhausted. Many who started out living in apartments now cluster in abandoned shopping centres or informal settlements, sinking deeper and deeper into debt,"
"My plea today is that we need governments around the world to show leadership: to analyse the situation and understand exactly what their country can do... to explain this to their citizens and address fears - based not on emotion but on a measured assessment of what can and must be done to share the responsibility and get on top of this situation."
Angelina Jolie met Khulud, a 38-year-old mother of four now living in a tent in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, who was left paralysed three years ago by a sniper in Syria, according to the UN refugee agency.
"Never once during our discussion did she ask for anything, did she stop smiling, or talk of anything other than her desire for her children to have the chance to go to school and have a better life," said Angelina Jolie.
"When I saw her beautiful smile, and her dedicated husband and children looking after her, I was in awe of them. They are heroes to me. And I ask myself, what have we come to when such survivors are made to feel like beggars?"