Humanitarian Traces of
Angelina Jolie

South Korea

03.11.2018

Angelina Jolie discusses global refugees issues, including the arrival and South Korea’s treatment of the Yemeni refugee population that arrived on the country’s tourist island of Jeju earlier in May, at the UNHCR office in Seoul.

Her visit to Seoul follows that of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on 23-24 October.

Angelina Jolie has called on the United Nations Security Council to back a “lasting ceasefire” in Yemen.

Angelina Jolie addressed the country’s conflict while meeting with leaders in South Korea. She had just visited the country’s Jeju island, where roughly 500 Yemeni refugees have been seeking asylum since May to escape the country’s civil war. During the meeting, Angelina Jolie said the world has been too slow to respond to the crisis and turned a blind eye as the situation worsened. She asked for international support for the people of Yemen, and all refugees.

“As an international community we have been shamefully slow to act to end the crisis in Yemen. We have watched the situation deteriorate to the point that Yemen is now on the brink of man-made famine, and facing the worst cholera epidemic in the world in decades. When conflict develops to this extent, many people have no choice but to flee if they are to have any chance of survival. The only way to enable refugees to return home, and to bring down the overall numbers worldwide, is to end conflicts themselves. I hope there can be greater understanding of the human realities causing people to flee, the strict legal criteria and process by which refugee status is determined by UNHCR, working with national authorities, and our shared responsibility to assist refugees until they can return home. Without a global response based on international law and collective responsibility, we risk much greater instability and insecurity over the long term, which would have a negative impact on all countries.”

Yemen has been in civil war since 2015, when the Houthi rebels began trying to overtake the country’s internationally recognized government. Saudi Arabia intervened and led a group of Arab states to start a military campaign aimed at putting Yemen’s government back in power. Ever since, deadly airstrikes have hit essential infrastructure like schools and hospitals, killing 10,000 people. The UN called Yemen’s civil war the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

During her visit, Jolie met with South Korean Justice Minister Park Sang-ki, who leads the domestic refugee policy ministry. On behalf of UNHCR, she thanked the country for protecting a few hundred Yemeni refugees in Jeju. She also discussed public concerns in Korea over the Yemeni refugee presence with the South Korean actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jung Woo-sung. Not all South Koreans have welcomed the refugee community — their arrival has also sparked xenophobic protests led by conservative Christians against the predominantly Muslim group.


Photos                 Press             About the conflict