Jolie dazzles minister
Enchanted Interior Minister Şahin (L) hosts Hollywood star Jolie at his office. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZHollywood star Angelina Jolie laid on the charm to Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin on Sept. 14 as she met top Turkish officials to share her concern with the plight of Syrian refugees ahead of winter.
“I share everyone’s concerns about the winter approaching. ... With the violence and the conflict showing no signs of easing up and the number [of refugees] growing, it is a very large concern for all of us,” Jolie, a special envoy for the U.N. refugee agency, told reporters Sept. 14 at a press conference, accompanied by U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
She called for cooperation to make sure that “nobody freezes to death” at this time.
The U.N. envoy, who visited another refugee camp in Turkey in June of last year, held meetings with Turkish officials in Ankara on Sept. 14, a day after visiting refugee camps in Kilis and Gaziantep.
Jolie said she was “very grateful” to Turkey and all of the countries that are accepting the refugees.
“No one wants to live as a refugee. No one wants to live in a camp. All of these people have lost their homes; they fled extreme violence, they’ve lost their families,” she said.
Syrian refugees were “very emotional and very grateful” to Turkey and other neighboring countries, Jolie said, adding that they still felt “very alone and in many ways abandoned.”
“They are of course also very traumatized, and the Turkish government spoke about doing much to assist them and [is providing emotional] assistance. This is also very important,” she said.
Jolie and Guterres were hosted at a luncheon by Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru yesterday following their separate talks with Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and Şahin. Jolie then met with President Abdullah Gül.
“We pursue an ‘open doors’ policy for the refugees coming from Syria and we don’t send anybody back,” Atalay said, adding that efforts were also being made to offer the refugees education.
Guterres expressed his “deep appreciation for the work that has been done.”
“We know this represents a huge challenge for Turkey. It is not only the impact of the refugees themselves, this represents the rupture of important relations with a neighbor,” he said.
During the meetings, Guterres said his agency was ready to make every effort to assist Turkey and noted that the returns of refugees in the long term should also be considered, according to diplomatic sources. Earlier this week, Jolie and the UNHCR chief visited other Syrian refugees in Jordan to draw attention to the crisis.
The interest of the international community in the issue remains less than expected, Gül told the U.N. delegation during the meeting, adding that the visit would be beneficial in this regard.
Turkish officials also reiterated Ankara’s appeal to establish a “safe environment” inside Syria to protect people there, diplomatic sources said.