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Angelina Jolie puts spotlight on Syrian refugees as U.N. Refugees chief warns Lebanon could collapse under burden

March 27th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Lebanon could collapse under the weight of the massive influx of Syrian refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that aired Thursday.

Without economic and financial support, and an increased effort to share the burden of Syrian refugees, “Lebanon [does] not [have] the possibility to go on with the present situation,” Guterres said.

Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the UNHCR, is highlighting the plight of Syrian refugees.

She recently visited with a family living in a Lebanese refugee camp, speaking with a young child, Hala, and her five siblings.

Hala saw her mother killed under their collapsed home, and their father is missing and presumed dead.

Watch Jolie speak with Hala and her siblings.

“Twenty-five percent of the Lebanese population today is Syrian,” Guterres said. “We have more Syrian students in Lebanese public schools than Lebanese students.”

U.N. Refugee chief on looming crisis

“Lebanon has serious problems with electricity and water, and largely because of this huge increase in population; the health system is totally overburdened, and the security implications of the Syrian crisis to Lebanon are absolutely dramatic.”

“Nobody can afford the collapse of Lebanon in the present moment.”

Lebanon has felt the brunt of the Syrian conflict, with just under a million refugees, according to the U.N.

Turkey and Jordan are both caring for about half a million refugees each; Iraq and Egypt are also carrying a significant burden.

“I remember in Jordan another child, a 4-year-old child, a boy,” Guterres recalled. “We were there for 20 minutes in his family’s tent. And he was constantly shooting with a toy gun.”

“Nobody managed to calm him down because violence is so deeply now in his way of life.”

The UNHCR is trying to help those children with “psychosocial support” but that is often ineffective given the extent of some of the trauma, Guterres admitted.

“When we see this tragedy, when we see this generation, it really breaks our hearts, because it's not only these children; it's the future of Syria that is being completely undermined.”

Guterres’ mandate as U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is humanitarian, but as a former Portuguese prime minister, he says the security implications of the conflict are hard to miss.

“I'm sure now the biggest threat, not only to regional stability but to global peace and security that we have faced since many, many decades ago.”

“Recently in a meeting with the minister of home affairs of Europe, their main concern was not the number of refugees coming into Europe; it was the number of European citizens going into Syria to fight in Syria now.”

“And that one day will come – radicalized, hardened, and potentially a security threat for their own countries.”

It is absolutely essential, Guterres said, that the international community overcome its divisions and work to end the conflict.

“I have never seen any major crisis in the world being solved without a lot of discreet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy.”

“What is for me dramatic in Syria is that I don't see that activity behind the scenes.”

It is vital that all countries with a stake – whether politically or militarily or financially, and whether with the government or opposition – play a role.

He cited the U.S., Russia, Iran, Saudia Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey to name just a few.

“I believe it's absolutely essential that these countries all understand that today this is a war nobody is winning,” he said. “It is clear that both the government and the opposition cannot survive without the support of the key stakeholders around the conflict.”

“This is becoming a serious threat to everybody.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. ellen

    I was really saddened by the state of these innocent children, war sucks. Thanks Angelina for speaking on behalf of the less fortunate and war victims

    March 27, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Shellz

      Amen - I've watched other clips of the effects fro this war and it's heart breaking. There's some good footage on PBS's Frontline. I hope for the sake of the people that it ends soon.

      March 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • joe brown

      this is sad but woud they help us australians if we were in a disater no so y are we going out of our way to help these people when we no that they wont help us

      March 30, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  2. Sandy

    I am complete heartsick and virtually without words after seeing this video by Angelina Jolie. War is hell and the war must be brought to an end now. I could see how difficult it was but she managed not to cry but instead tried to be a comfort to those children. God bless you Angelina for bringing this tragic situation to the world's attention. Please let us all pray for an end to this war now. No one should suffer like this, especially children.

    March 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Reply
    • Anne

      Jolie, this is heart breaking! Where is this world headed? How can one person's greed and love for Power cause this much pain to millions. God please be a father and mother to these children and fill the void that the loss of their earthy parents have caused. Provide for them in super-natural ways and remember all the other millions who are suffering in this war and around the world.

      March 28, 2014 at 11:38 am | Reply
  3. Fandom

    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana

    People have come and gone, but those in power – always stay the same.

    March 27, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  4. rawya

    If we need to help them we just need to say No for the War in Syria .. and Understand why they face this !! that will help us to understand the revolutions on arab world .. as am Muslim and Arabian girl i can say that we just need a justice and being free of believe " it is worth living "

    March 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  5. mirela

    Syria was a nice country kids like this use tohave what our kids have now....USA create wars.... that destroy everything and we will be punish for this one day....I just hope I will be long dead by then.

    March 27, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Reply
    • Shellz

      The U.S. in no way created this war. This is the work of a dictator - Assad. It's irresponsible to point blame at our government for someone else's actions.

      March 27, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  6. JJ

    "The U.S. in no way created this war."

    The U.S. did create this war. The U.S. is training and funding foreign terrorists to attack Syria. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also financing it and sending their own terrorists. Terrorists are coming all over. Most of the rebels are NOT Syrians but come from Chechnya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and many other countries.

    Just a few days ago Albanian terrorists who were fighting in Syria killed two Turkish soldiers and a policeman. So they are starting to turn on those who've funded and funneled them into Syria.

    Just one Turkish NGO was reported to have sent over 800 Albanians to fight in Syria by last January. They are pouring in from Turkey and even Turkish citizens resent that their tax money is going to feed and house these foreign terrorists before they go to Turkey.
    Turkish soldiers are also providing cover for the terrorists to enter Syria.

    Also , Turkey, a NATO ally, is preying on the refugees and kidnapping some for their organs. Others are sent to be child brides for the Saudis and other Muslims.

    March 28, 2014 at 12:47 am | Reply
  7. Zeina

    Unfortunately, Lebanon, my beautiful country, has already collapsed. Politicians are just turning a blind eye because it would cost them a loooot to dig it out of the hole they originally made 🙁

    March 28, 2014 at 2:49 am | Reply
  8. sadehdel

    The U.S. did create this war. The U.S. is training and funding foreign terrorists to attack Syria. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also financing it and sending their own terrorists. Terrorists are coming all over. Most of the rebels are NOT Syrians but come from Chechnya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and many other countries.

    March 28, 2014 at 8:34 am | Reply
  9. Shaun

    Angelina Jolie is a truly wonderful person. Actions speak louder than words, and she demonstrates something we could all learn from. This piece was heartbreaking and a reminder that we can't forget about these people.

    March 28, 2014 at 8:58 am | Reply
  10. kkummen

    jolie is doing something of great importance with her stardom not like the disgusting reality stars whose only problems having a bad hair day what is really sad is how much people watch them and not what really matters in our world of the truly suffering –thankyou angelina jolie

    March 28, 2014 at 9:46 am | Reply
  11. Gianni Belfiore

    If only everyone was more like you Angelina the world could be such a better place for Humanity.
    Thank you Angelina for all the good you're doing to this world, god bless you.... you're a true Angel send from above.

    March 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  12. oub

    Angelina you purchased an island for your husband by 12 million dollars.. I think if you spend half of this this huge amount on the Syrian refugee will be better more than making a video about them

    March 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • nellygin

      where did you get that information from? The tabloid? Get your facts right. SHE DID NOT BUY ANY ISLAND. Even if she did, she has spent considerable amount of time, money and effort travelling the world for human right purposes.
      Also she worked for her money!
      If there were many Angelina Jolie, hopefully the world would be a better place.

      March 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • reality bites

      Jolie did not buy an island. Jolie donates millions of dollars to refugees and organizations that help refugees. She has regularly funded Syrian refugee camps. But more needs to be done. How much have you given?

      March 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  13. andy

    thank you for your concern and help of the syrian people, and may God reward you in you kids God bless u you real angel.

    March 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  14. Avi Shtevi

    Now is the time to consider all options even the craziest most naive options – Israel should sign a peace treaty with Lebanon. This would strengthen our economies and marginalize extremist groups such a Hezbollah. I see it as a win win for both sides. I wonder if anyone is considering this...

    March 30, 2014 at 6:05 am | Reply
  15. Amera

    Can someone please tell me how I can send money to this family??? Does he (Nemer) has a bank account etc? I wish to send money that goes directly to him and his siblings. Anyone who knows as to how I could do so, please assist me. Thanks

    March 30, 2014 at 9:01 am | Reply
  16. top

    Angelina Jolie, for her is better to stick to acting, directing not going for her, she made her disgraceful one-sided movie about Bosnia, like thousands of Serbian victims do not exist!

    March 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • Beatleness

      Your comments are disgraceful!
      WHAT are you doing to help the people in Lebanon and Syria. They're people JUST LIKE YOU AND I

      March 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Reply
      • top thousands of Serbian victims do not exis .. Serbs are represented as dirty, rapists, criminals .. like they were not killed thousands of innocents in the war, like the Serbian women are not raped ... like they were not killed 700,000 in camps during the Second World War, like they were not scared ..

        March 31, 2014 at 6:46 am |
  17. Beatleness

    Man up and admit you're not helping anyone with those kinds of comments. I'm not a fan of Jolie but at LEAST she's doing SOMETHING positive.

    March 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Reply







    March 30, 2014 at 10:42 pm | Reply



    March 30, 2014 at 11:48 pm | Reply
  20. Asif Hussain


    March 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  21. Nora

    No matter what nationality, we are all human and those feelings we share unite us.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  22. Nicolle Leslie Lingd

    Angelina is so phony and pathetic, thinking she can deal with politics with no education, only money. Just being some priviledged American Hollywood royalty flying your own planes you think you understand the world around you? In Hollywood she is acting like some deity. This is so sick.
    She wants to be visible so hard, she can’t be average. She might be bored. But everything she does is PR for her life to have meaning. She will never understand real problems of Syrians or Serbians. She is just parasiting on human tragedies to have value (see her Louis Vuitton campaign for rich people in Africa – this was so controversial). Luxury stuff and Africa? Common! One day is she promoting stupid movies with A LOT OF violence acting like fake Goddess that we should pray for while other day she is saint theresa that we should adore. One day she is promoting high end luxury and other day she is queen of modesty – what are you playing on us Angelina?

    April 1, 2014 at 3:19 am | Reply
    • Lena

      I don't like Amanpoure very much she is such a one-dimentional soldier, so I read the comments sometimes and normally I would never write a comment but I like your text it has an edge. You must be from Europe? All my friends and I are indifferent toward Ms Jolie act which is obviously supported by some political decisions. We know our way around Europe and countries closer to us and her act is basically insulting our intelligence. Most of us have higher education, speak several languages and have travelled around entire Europe, US, Turkey, Middle East, north Africa, Australia even south America and believe me, what we see on TV is not the entire truth and sometimes not even close, we know it, so whatever she does is always in support of what we "should" think. Its truly pathetic. And even if you are just on the emotional side, yes war is terrible, please I have a brain, do not send Angelina Jolie to explain to me on TV that war is a terrible thing. We have grandparents who lived through the horror of the WW2 ( one fourth of my family was wiped out in front of my grandmother's eyes) and many friends and colleagues who experienced the Balkan war, the Iran revolution, Lebanese war or this war in Syria. Firstly it's terrible to watch it on TV with actors "raising awareness". There are people who have actually studied to become journalists, historians, sociologists and experts who can tackle the subject in a professional way (even better than Amanpour). Apart from this we have books even internet to help us do the research and finally we probably know some people who come from those countries and we can just engage in communication and ask. Think about what you have become: if you need some "beauty" actress from Hollywood with no expertise or education on the subject to "raise your awareness" about how terrible war is, your country is playing a part in, and that you should donate money for the refugees then this actress and this organization thinks you are so stupid and lazy they have to lure you with a "cookie"...

      April 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  23. Saxifrage

    Nicolle,are u sure that ur mother breastfeed u well or are u jst a child dt dn't no what he is sayin, pls can u rethink before u say anything for ur own good ad sometime if u dn't ve anything to say kindly close ur mouth very well pls in the name God, thanks

    April 1, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Reply
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