POWELL JOINED BY ANGELINA JOLIE
Copyright 2002 Associated Press

[ June 20th 2002 ]

A celebration of World Refugee Day on Thursday brought together a unique diplomatic pair: Secretary of State Colin Powell and actress Angelina Jolie. "Ms. Jolie is the only ambassador I deal with who has her own fan club," Powell joked before about 100 invited guests and uninvited throngs of curious tourists and commuters in the cavernous main hall of historic Union Station.

Jolie, a United Nations goodwill ambassador, has visited refugee camps around the world, including in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, Pakistan and Ecuador. Thursday, she helped Powell present awards to four students and cut a ribbon to open an exhibit of pictures, children's artwork and performances by refugee artists.

During a recent visit to Colombia, Jolie said, she was missing her newly adopted son - until she spoke to a refugee whose three children were murdered. She praised refugees for the courage they show despite being uprooted from their homes and losing all they had. "Many of them won't even know this is happening today. Many have not crossed a border, or reached a camp," Jolie said. "Refugees are just like you and me. They want the same things we do. The United States was founded by refugees. The strength of the United States depends on that very diversity."

This year's World Refugee Day pays tribute to refugee women, who with their children make up the bulk of the world's 22 million refugees. "To look into the face of a refugee woman is to peer into the very eyes of the exodus," Powell said. "They are also the eyes of hope." The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 will not "shake our commitment" to improving the plight of the world's refugees, Powell said. "This is a worldwide challenge."

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