Angelina Jolie and her boyfriend Brad Pitt spent Christmas Day with Colombian refugees in Costa Rica, as part of the actress' work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Jolie and Pitt arrived Monday and visited a group of refugee children and families and to meet Costa Rican officials, the refugee agency, known as the UNHCR, said in a statement. There are about 11,500 refugees in this Central American country, most of whom fled Colombia because of the conflict there between leftist guerrillas, soldiers and paramilitary forces.
"We had a marvelous Christmas Day with the Costa Rican people and the families of the Colombia refugees that we met," the Oscar-winning actress said in a statement released by the UNHCR.
Jolie and Pitt gave presents to young refugees in the capital, San Jose, and they later with representatives of the Costa Rican government.
Jolie earlier in the day described the conflict in Colombia as "the greatest humanitarian tragedy in the Western Hemisphere" that receives little international attention.
"My Christmas message to Colombian refugees and to the millions of displaced people in Colombia is that the world has not totally forgotten them."
An estimated three million Colombians have been forced from their homes by more than two decades of armed conflict, and most are internally displaced, essentially refugees in their own country, the AP says.
Another 500,000 have fled to other countries of the region. Together, the press statement said, they make up the largest single population of concern to UNHCR anywhere in the world.
Jolie will visit several small businesses set up by refugees in San Jose with help from micro-loans from the U.N. agency. She also called for greater acceptance of refugees, who are often stigmatized.
UNHCR said this was Jolie's second trip to the region since she became a goodwill ambassador for the refugee agency in 2001, noting that she went to Ecuador in 2002 and later wrote a personal journal of her meetings with Colombian refugees in that country.
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