UN Ambassador Angelina Jolie urges donors to step up support for Iraqi

23 July 2009Academy award-winning actress and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency Angelina Jolie today called for greater support for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced. “This is a moment where things seem to be improving on the ground, but Iraqis need a lot of support and help to rebuild their lives,” said Ms. Jolie, who was today visiting families in a makeshift settlement in a suburb of Baghdad, on her third visit to the country.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador spent a day at a camp in the Chikook suburb of north-west Baghdad, home to some 20,000 people, listening to men, women and children forced from their homes in the western suburbs of the capital.“I want to come back and find you in a better place and in a different situation,” said Ms. Jolie, expressing hope that UNHCR “and the Government will support you in getting a piece of land. You need help not because you are poor, but because you are the future of Iraq.”Chikook lacks drinking water, an operational sewage system and paved roads, and the area is littered with garbage, despite a UNHCR-organized clean-up earlier this year, the agency said.In recent months, UNHCR has been trucking in potable water to Chikook, worked on the rehabilitation of the water system and conducted minor shelter repairs.UNHCR estimates that 1.6 million Iraqis uprooted by a wave of sectarian violence that erupted in February 2006 after the bombing of a mosque in the ancient city of Samarra, and says that some 300,000 people have returned to their homes amid a general improvement in the security situation since mid-2008.The agency says that since April last year, it has provided emergency shelter rehabilitation and shelter upgrade to 5,000 families, and almost 20,000 homes will be rehabilitated by the end of this year.

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