Copyright 2002 Associated Press

[ September 12th 2002 ]

Tomb Raider star Angelina Jolie has donated dlrs 100,000 to provide food for Western Sahara refugees, United Nations aid agencies said Friday. The actress, who is a goodwill ambassador for the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees, gave the money to UNHCR and the World Food Program to help support some 155,000 refugees living in camps in southeastern Algeria.

"I was distressed when this desperate situation was brought to my attention. I hope to encourage other people to make themselves aware of this crisis facing the Western Saharan refugees and do what they can to help," Jolie said in a statement. The refugees have been living in camps since Morocco annexed the mineral-rich Western Sahara in 1975. They are almost entirely dependent on aid for survival.

WFP said last month it would be forced in October to slash the food it provides each refugee to the equivalent of 231 calories a day unless it receives new donations. The standard U.N. refugee ration totals 2,100 calories daily. WFP said it needed donations of 8,336 metric tons (9,170 short tons) of food, or dlrs 3.7 million, to support the refugees for four months.

Fighting between Moroccan forces and Polisario Front rebels ended in 1991 with a U.N.-negotiated cease-fire that called for a referendum on whether Western Sahara would become independent or part of Morocco. But U.N. efforts over the past 11 years to organize the referendum have been frustrated by disputes over who is eligible to vote.

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