Angelina Jolie Visits Syrian Refugees in Jordan

 

With the Syrian refugee crisis reaching epic proportions, actress and U.N. Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited displaced residents Tuesday at a tent camp in Jordan.

The trip draws attention to the plight of more than 253,000 Syrians who have fled their country during 18 months of relentless bloodshed. More than 85,000 refugees have escaped to Jordan, and many more have fled to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

Jolie said she was appalled by "the amount of innocent children I've met here who are wounded and unaccompanied, with their parents being killed, and now they're on their own."

She relayed horror stories of things that children said they had witnessed, such as "body parts separated, and burned people being pulled apart, like chicken. A little 9-year-old girl said that."

"I am grateful to Jordan and the border countries for saving the lives (of those) who are dying in Syria. It's an extraordinary thing," Jolie said at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq.

"We encourage the international community to support the people here until one day they go back home."

But the flood of refugees has tested the capacity of neighboring countries.

"Jordan has already reached its limit in absorbing the refugee influx, and what is needed now is to build more refugee camps for the Syrian refugees," Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said. "We have limited means, but this is the land of the good people, and we will share with them whatever we have, no matter how little (it) is."

In other developments:

On the ground: Homs and Daraa take another beating

Opposition activists reported a wave of fresh violence in Syrian cities accustomed to attacks.

At least 15 people were killed or injured when a bakery in Maree, in Aleppo province, was shelled Tuesday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. Syrian regime forces have previously attacked bread lines outside bakeries in the province, according to human rights groups and U.N. officials.

At least 25 more were killed elsewhere across the country, including 18 by aerial shelling, the activist network said.

In Homs, a bastion of anti-government sentiment, regime forces renewed heavy shelling by tanks and mortars, the LCC said.

And in Daraa, the birthplace of demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad last year, the LCC reported "heavy and indiscriminate gunfire by regime forces."

State-run media, meanwhile, reported Tuesday that 30 civilians were killed in a "terrorist bombing" Monday in front of an Aleppo hospital. The government said children were among those killed.

World reaction: U.N. official says both sides will face consequences

The new normal in Syria's civil war involves mass killings, torture and sexual violence, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Monday.

"Thousands have been killed, thousands more injured. As we speak, civilians -- including children -- are continuing to be injured and killed in Syria virtually every hour of every day," she said.

More than 2.5 million people across Syria have been directly affected by violence since the popular uprising against al-Assad began in March 2011. The Assad family has ruled Syria for more than 40 years.

What started as peaceful protests last year led to a fierce government crackdown, an armed rebel uprising and a civil war with no end in sight.

The crisis is compounded by the government's escalating use of helicopters and fighter jets in civilian areas, with indiscriminate attacks on urban areas where civilians were probably trapped, Pillay said.

But she said human rights violations have been committed by both the government and rebels, and she warned that both parties would ultimately face legal consequences for their actions.

"Both government forces and opposition forces deploy snipers who target civilians," Pillay said. "As time has passed, opposition forces have also been increasingly implicated in kidnappings and abductions, including of foreigners perceived as being government supporters."

"Opposition forces should be under no illusion that they will be immune from prosecution," she added, reiterating her call for the U.N. Security Council to refer human rights violations to the International Criminal Court.

 

By Erin B 09/11/2012 01:44:00