Angelina Jolie made a two-day trip to a camp in eastern Chad this week, where she visited refugees from neighboring Sudan’s Darfur region.
“It’s always hard to see decent people, families, living in such difficult conditions,” said Jolie, who reached the 26,000-person Oure-Cassoni camp after crossing a Saharan sandstorm.
“What is most upsetting is how long it is taking the international community to answer this crisis,” she said in a statement released Wednesday by the Geneva-based U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Oscar-winning actress and U.N. goodwill ambassador completed her trip Tuesday.
Jolie said it is about time that those responsible for crimes against humanity in Darfur face international justice.
“Today, many refugees seemed to have a new sense of hope and they want to see those guilty brought to trial,” said Jolie, who welcomed the first accusations by the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor against individuals for war crimes in the four-year-old Darfur conflict.
On Tuesday, the ICC’s chief prosecutor linked Sudan’s government to atrocities in Darfur, naming a junior minister as a war crimes suspect who allegedly helped recruit, arm and bankroll the murderous desert fighters known as the janjaweed. A janjaweed militia leader was also named in the case.
The conflict has claimed more than 200,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million people. Fighting erupted in February 2003 when ethnic African tribesmen took up arms, complaining of decades of neglect and discrimination by the Khartoum government. Sudan’s government is accused of unleashing the Arab janjaweed, which is blamed for widespread atrocities against ethnic African civilians in Darfur.
“In order to feel safe enough to return home, these people said they would need to know that the men who attacked them had been stripped of their weapons,” Jolie, 31, said. “This is a very important day for international justice. The decisions of the ICC could make a big difference in the lives of these women and their children.”
On Tuesday, Mia Farrow told a press conference at the United Nations that she had encountered burned villages and terrified refugees with no help in sight on her recent trip to Central African Republic and Chad.
The 62-year-old actress and U.N. goodwill ambassador recalled impressions from her visits earlier this month to villages and refugee camps along border areas where violence has spilled over from Sudan’s Darfur region.