Hollywood actress and United Nations spokesmodel Angelina Jolie is wagging her finger at the West for its indifference to refugees.
"It’s a scandal, really, in such a rich world, that we are not even finding a way to help feed refugee families properly," Jolie vented in the latest issue of the U.N.’s Refugees Magazine. The movie star, a U.N. "good will ambassador" since 2001, singled out America and Australia as insensitive countries that are turning their backs on the persecuted. Many refugees have "died trying to get to the U.S. and Australia," she writes. "But we don’t notice. We are simply affronted by their audacity."
Jolie bemoaned a photo taken on an unidentified beach in Spain in 2002, which showed a couple relaxing under an umbrella not far from the washed-up corpse of a black man (presumably a refugee, but who knows?). Her solution to this supposed crisis of callousness? "[M]ore resources invested in the regions the refugees first move to, so they don’t feel they have to move on unless they really want to; and more resources for countries where peace has been established."
Increasing aid to a corrupt global bureaucracy may give comfort to Hollywood liberals. (How, by the way, does Jolie think peace is "established"? With a magic wand? By wishing it so? By relying on feckless blue helmets who coddle jihadists and other thugs?) In the land of make-believe, Jolie’s call to pour more tax dollars into the U.N. refugee agency’s coffers might well help to stem the refugee tide. But in the real world, it will only perpetuate exploitation. The well-read actress ought to read up on the Kenyan bribery scandal that has plagued the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.
You want to talk about scandal? For years, U.N. staff members in Nairobi shook down African refugees seeking resettlement in North America, Europe and Australia while the U.N. looked the other way. The extortion racket charged up to $5,000 a head for resettlement rights. Belated investigations found that the scandal wasn’t the result of a few rogue workers — but of negligent management that created a ripe atmosphere for abuse.
You want to talk about callousness? Tell it to female and child refugees across the Congo who have been victimized by sexual predators protected among the ranks of U.N. peacekeepers and civilian staff. Last year, some 50 U.N. peacekeepers and U.N. civilian officers faced an estimated 150 allegations of sexual exploitation and rape in the Congo alone. The abuse is widespread among U.N. personnel — from the Central African Republic to Bosnia and Eastern Europe. Again, these refugees were exploited while U.N. management fiddled.
You want to talk about failing to take notice? As Claudia Rosett has reported in The Wall Street Journal, the U.N. refugee agency sits on its hands while some 300,000 North Korean refugees have endured decades of abuse and hopelessness underground in China — where the $4.4 million-funded UNHCR office is fortified against refugee intrusions.
You want to talk about wasted resources? That $10 billion Saddam Hussein siphoned off in the U.N. Oil-for-Food debacle could have fed a lot of hungry people.
Jolie excoriates the West for rethinking lax asylum and refugee policies in a post-Sept. 11 world (even as the U.S. has just announced it will take in some 13,000 refugees from Burundi who have spent 30 years in Tanzania). But porous borders have aided jihadists from Bali to London to Berlin to Copenhagen to Melbourne to Boston. Unlike jet-setting celebrities, the rest of us can’t fret about feeding every last one of the world’s refugees when the survival of our own children’s homeland is at stake.
No amount of ignorant Hollywood guilt-tripping can whitewash the United Nations’ abject humanitarian failures. And no sovereign country should apologize for taking steps to look after its own first.
Angelina would do best to tuck her sanctimonious finger away and return to fantasyland.