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UN Envoy Jolie Spotlights Refugee Conditions in Myanmar

  • VOA News

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt arrive at a hostel for female factory workers in the Hlaingtaryar Industrial Zone in Yangon, August 1, 2015.

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt arrive at a hostel for female factory workers in the Hlaingtaryar Industrial Zone in Yangon, August 1, 2015.

Actress and humanitarian activist Angelina Jolie joined Myanmar's opposition leader and democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, to sit down with female factory workers in Yangon to bring attention to the dire conditions in which they live and work.

Jolie, who is a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, is on a four-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

During her meeting with the factory workers, on the outskirts of an industrial zone in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, Jolie and Suu Kyi witnessed first hand the conditions the women live in, mostly low cost hostels.

Jolie also toured inside the factory.

She traveled to Kachin state earlier this week, home to more than 10,000 displaced people since a cease-fire between Myanmar's government and ethnic rebels broke down in 2011.

She also visited with members of Myanmar's Rohingya minority in Yangon, to bring attention to the living conditions of Myanmar's displaced minorities.

Living conditions

Jolie told reporters Friday the situation for displaced people in Myanmar, also known as Burma, is "extremely serious," after discussing with some of them the living conditions for displaced members of the Rohingya in violence-wracked Rakhine State, which has suffered from waves of ethnic violence.

The Oscar-winning star, who is also a special envoy for the United Nations' refugee agency, arrived in Myanmar on Wednesday, meeting President Thein Sein in the capital Naypyidaw and survivors of sexual violence in war-torn northern Kachin state.

She has commented particularly on hardships facing women in Myanmar, telling reporters that women living in conflict situations are especially vulnerable to sexual violence, human trafficking, and other human rights violations.

Jolie called for more medical assistance and legal support for such women, as well as a strong legal framework to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable.

She also attended a voter education project with the British ambassador to Myanmar, urging Myanmar's young people and its women to vote in the upcoming November elections.

She is in Myanmar at the invitation of Suu Kyi, with whom she is collaborating on an initiative on sexual violence.

Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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