United Nations envoy Angelina Jolie travelled to Turkey's border with Syria on Friday, sharing fruit and dessert with some of the thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled their government’s bloody crackdown.
The Hollywood celebrity and goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees arrived in the Turkish province of Hatay on a private jet with boxes of toys for the refugee camps.
Ms. Jolie spent 2 1/2 hours with the refugees, asking how they were in Arabic and then speaking with them through an interpreter, Turkey’s NTV television reported. It said she took notes, showing particular interest in the women and children.
Nearly 10,000 Syrians have sought refuge in camps in Turkey.
Protests first erupted in Syria in mid-March as part of the “Arab Spring” push toward democracy. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responded by unleashing the military to crush the street demonstrations.
Turkish television showed Ms. Jolie disembarking from the plane in sunglasses at Hatay airport. She then headed to a camp in the Turkish town of Altinozu.
Turkish authorities hoisted a 15-metre banner near the entrance of the refugee camp to welcome her. It read: “Goodness Angel of the World, Welcome” in English and Turkish.
An anti-Syria protest broke out at the camp hours before Ms. Jolie arrived in a grey van with tinted windows. Protesters could be seen carrying a white coffin with that read “The Society of Arab states” on one side and “The Conscience of Russia and China” on the other.
They waved Turkish and Syrian flags and held up banners that said: “Stop the killing of children and the destruction of mosques.” They could also be heard shouting messages of thanks for Turkey.
Police kept both fans and media away from the actress at Hatay’s airport and most cameras were removed from rooftops and high points.
One fan held a poster that read: “Angelina, kiss me for world peace.” Hundreds of people, mostly women, climbed rooftops and crowded balconies and waited under scorching sun for hours to catch a glimpse of her. Ms. Jolie waved at her fans before getting back into the van to be driven to the airport in a security motorcade.
In April, Ms. Jolie travelled to Tunisia during its refugee crisis as thousands fled from its war-torn neighbour, Libya.