UN refugee agency Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has been in Bosnia and Herzegovina, meeting the country’s Presidency and discussing a number of issues, including the plight of the country’s displaced people during a one-day visit.
Her visit, a private trip in support of her work in the region, was partly facilitated by UNHCR and was the second this year to Bosnia and Herzegovina following her previous visit in April. On this occasion, Jolie met with the Chair of the Presidency, Haris Silajdžic, and Presidency member Željko Komšic. Presidency member Nebojša Radmanovic was out of the country and could not attend the meeting, however the Goodwill Ambassador did reach out by leaving a personal note with his Office.
During the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost half of the country’s population was displaced. Recognising the enormity of the displacement, Jolie stated that “the consequences of such a tragedy cannot be undone, however we have a responsibility to do all in our power to reduce the pain by helping those who need assistance. In doing so, we contribute to overcoming divides and building a better future for all the people of the country”.
UNHCR has worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1992, and during the war undertook one of the largest relief operations ever organized. Of the country’s remaining 113,000 internally displaced people, some 7,000 are still living in collective accommodation centres created more than 15 years ago and intended only as temporary housing. UNHCR provides support for these people as well as a further 7,000 refugees from Croatia and those members of the country’s Roma community who are at risk of statelessness.
Referring to the revised strategy for implementing the section of the Dayton Peace Agreement that deals with the needs of displaced people, Jolie urged steps to translate the strategy into action. “I hope that there’ll soon be practical steps to improve these people’s lives,” she said. “The political leaders have shown a spirit of compromise in getting this far. Now it needs a little more urgency.”
Commenting after the meeting, the UNHCR Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Naveed Hussain, stated that the Goodwill Ambassador’s latest visit was part of UNHCR’s continuing commitment to ending displacement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and followed other high-level visits to the country over the last year, including Jolie’s previous mission in April and a visit by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres.
Jolie stated her happiness at being back in the country and that she looks forward to returning to the region over the coming months to continue her work.