American actress Angelina Jolie met on Friday with Colombian refugees and Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa in a small Ecuadorean town near the Colombian border.
Jolie, visiting the area in her capacity as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), spoke for a half hour with Correa in the rain forest-surrounded town of Shushufindi in the province of Sucumbios.
Correa later issued press release about the meeting, saying that he and Jolie spoke about the refugee settlements that have sprung up along the Colombia-Ecuador border, and that the refugees “can count on our total commitment to continue helping them.”
The release also noted that Jolie had met with refugee families on Thursday in the provincial capital of Lago Agrio, and its nearby refugee community called Barranca Bermeja, where 34 families are being attended to by the UNCHR.
Ecuadorean government figures estimate that up to May there have been 53,000 new Colombian refugees in Ecuador this year, mostly the victims of displacement due to violence. Of that number, about 28,000 have received refugee visas.
Ecuadorean authorities estimate that nearly 500,000 Colombian refugees are currently living in the country.
It is Jolie’s second visit to the region. In 2002, she visited with refugees in the Ecuadorean provinces of Sucumbios and Imbabura as part of a visit to commemorate “World Refugee Day” on June 20.
Colombia Reports editorial writer Sebastian Castaneda wrote last year that Angelina Jolie should visit Colombia to call attention to the displaced refugee crisis.