Writer: Swasti Jain is a sophomore in high school and an avid member of her Model United Nations Club. Her exposure to current events drives her passion to make a change.
Looking at the denotation of a humanitarian- one that is concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare, one must wonder whether or not any of these ‘humans’ actually coexist in a world engulfed with tumult and downright prejudiced societies.Well one notable human soul has sought to touch the lives of ordinary civilians residing in the tumultuous nation of Greece. You guessed it ,Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie.
These past few weeks Special Envoy to UNHCR Angelina Jolie visited the country's capital, Athens to engage in emergency response efforts, meet with volunteers, and provide words of comfort to the refugee families. More importantly Ms.Jolie met with prime minister Alexis Tsipras to reiterate the offer of support, protection,and assistance to the refugees and asylum seekers as proposed by the UNHCR.This discussion not only highlights the humanitarian efforts being made but also takes into consideration the magnitude of suffering the refugee families must have endured. According to the UNHCR “There are 40,000 migrants who have arrived in Greece in the past weeks,” let alone the past year where the journey to the European nations had actually commenced by these innocent families.The organization further restates the scope of the crisis by saying that “aid efforts are not meeting the needs of the rapidly growing number of refugees.”
Despite this statement, after Ms.Jolie had her brief talk with the prime minister of Greece, she showed her undeniable prudence through an in depth discussion of the Geneva conference in the end of March hosted by the UNHCR itself. This conference will highlight the development of legal pathways as well as ways to reach safety in regard to the growth in crime rates such as the smuggling in Athens.The conference also plays a large part in the global responsibility we must take in regard to the complexity of the crisis, as it includes a message from the international community to expand and engage in collective efforts to address and avoid this situation.
Through her humanitarian efforts, Ms. Jolie encouraged the refugees to ask for registration with the Greek authorities in order to “work through the formal asylum system.” Ms. Jolie’s words are not only representative of the conference but are the hallmark of a true humanitarian seeking to aid refugee families in great need of assistance and above all - reform. Hence, we must (similar to Ms. Jolie’s actions) look behind the superficial curtain of change and seek reform where it is needed most. This means facilitated discussion with partners and volunteers to improve the conditions for the vulnerable Syrian refugees for their sufficient protection in Greece.
Ms. Jolie culminated her visit through spoken words of diplomacy along with the Greek authorities, gratitude towards the volunteers, and empathy for the Greek citizens who understood the difficult circumstances of the Syrian refugees in spite of their deteriorating status in the global scale. However, she stated towards the end of her thanks “This needs to be matched by an international response equal to the scale of the global refugee crisis, which includes ending the conflict in Syria but must go far beyond that."
As you can see Ms. Jolie places a challenge not only to the international community but also organizations that promote this kind of response to go beyond what is required of us in this humanitarian endeavor - one that is concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare.