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Angelina Jolie attended a major meeting last week and called for the education of Iraqi children to be given more attention.

The 32-year-old actress, who has visited more than 20 humanitarian disaster zones – including Iraq and Darfur – since becoming a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in 2001, joined a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington to talk about her recent trip to Iraq and her views on the status of refugees in the region. She also spoke at length about her mission to help in the education of children affected by conflict.

“It is a fact that the best way to heal children in conflict and their trauma is to focus their minds on their future and give them an education,” she said. “It’s also a fact that an educated population is the best guarantee for a stable and properous future.”

Jolie has witnessed some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, and has visited refugee camps in countries such as Tanzania, Pakistan, Thailand, Ecuador, Kosovo, Kenya, and Namibia. During last week’s Council, the actress recalled visiting a camp in Burma where a group of school children gave her a list of the simple things they lack but need for a basic education – grammar books, dictionaries, and pens.

“They are desperate for these things,” she said. “They’re desperate for an education.”

Jolie is known to cover all of her own costs when visiting countries in need, and always insists on sharing the same living and working conditions as field workers. In 2003 she published Notes From My Travels, a compelling collection of journal entries from her field missions.

Jolie has the experience and firsthand knowledge to know what she is talking about in regards to refugees, and can see the importance of educating children in Iraq.

“We need them to grow up and be doctors and lawyers and engineers and teachers,” she said during the Council. “We need them to rebuild their country, stabilize their country, and eventually lead their country.”

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