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Jolie, Pitt give $1 million to aid refugees

The foundation founded by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie  has given $1 million to help displaced people in Pakistan, a country she has visited three times.
/ Source: PEOPLE.com

They're between film shoots, but Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have kept busy.

First, it was the creation of the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center, named after Brad's mother, in his hometown of Springfield, Mo. And Wednesday, in support of Jolie's eight-year relationship with the UN Refugee Agency, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation gave $1 million to help displaced people in Pakistan, a country she has visited three times.

The head of the agency, António Guterres, thanked the foundation for its assistance, calling Pakistan's plight "the most challenging humanitarian crisis of the past decade," as more than 2 million people are currently displaced in the country.

On Thursday, standing ovations underscored an emotional ceremony marking World Refugee Day — with some of them led by Jolie. The star, along with the rest of the audience, was visibly moved as they heard firsthand stories from refugees who have been relocated to the United States. They were also able to cheer, via Internet camera, along with students from a school in a Chad refugee camp.

Due to unexpected circumstances, some guests were not able to make the Washington event. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had broken her elbow in an accident, while scheduled host Anderson Cooper suffered flight problems, leaving TODAY's Ann Curry to fill in.

Jolie, obviously choked up with emotion, said of the refugees, "Most of all they are survivors ... They are the most impressive people I have ever met."

Tales of survivalRecalling a 2001 trip for the United Nations Refugee Agency to Afghanistan, during which she talked with an expectant mother of two, Jolie recalled, "Before we said goodbye to the pregnant lady, she pointed to her young boy with such a sad look and she said, 'He's always asking for more food, and it hurts me to say, "We have none.'' ' A few weeks later the war in Afghanistan began."

The two actors (and their growing family) travel the world for worthy causes.

Later in the hour-plus program, Jolie and the rest of the audience sat captivated as honoree Rose Mapendo, a single mother held captive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 16 months during that country's civil war, recounted being forced to witness the torture and execution of her husband, and giving birth to twin sons on the cement floor of her cell.

After the presentation, Mapendo, Jolie and the head of the U.N. Refugee Agency, Antonio Guterres, joined other American and international dignitaries for lunch. Thursday evening, all three will reunite for a gala celebration for UNHCR — before Jolie and her children leave D.C. to head back to Los Angeles, where Brad Pitt is filming "Moneyball."