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U.N. envoy Angelina Jolie visits Syria refugees in Iraq

Story highlights

  • Actress Angelina Jolie visits a Syrian refugee camp in Baghdad
  • She discusses Syrian refugees with the Iraqi foreign minster
  • The number of Syrian refugees in Iraq has risen to 21,000, the minister says
  • Jolie is a special envoy for the U.N.'s refugee agency

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie is visiting Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region Sunday after cancellation of her flight from Baghdad because of bad weather.

Jolie's flight to Erbil was canceled Saturday, said Aurvasi Patel, assistant representative of the United Nation's refugee agency. She made it there a day later.

After she met with Kurdish officials at Erbil airport, the actress met with refugees at a Syrian camp in Dohuk province.

Jolie -- a special envoy for the refugee agency -- met Iraqi returnees from Syria and senior government officials Saturday in Baghdad.

She discussed the situation of Syrian refugees in Iraq with Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari at his office in Baghdad, the ministry said in a statement.

They also talked about the Iraqi government's efforts to meet the daily needs of refugees, the statement said.

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    Zebari told Jolie that the number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict to seek sanctuary in Iraq has risen to 21,000. Many are now living in Iraq's western Anbar and northern Duhok provinces.

    Zebari said nearly 31,000 Iraqis have also fled the war in Syria and returned to their native country.

    Jolie also met with officials from the Iraqi ministry that deals with displaced people.

    She has recently visited refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to highlight suffering and the need for international humanitarian assistance.

    While at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan on Tuesday, Jolie, who is herself raising six children with partner Brad Pitt, spoke of the horrors that children, many of them orphans, have witnessed in Syria.

    "I am grateful to Jordan and the border countries for saving the lives (of those) who are dying in Syria. It's an extraordinary thing. We encourage the international community to support the people here until one day they go back home," she said.

    Jolie, who was appointed a special envoy of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in April, accompanied Guterres on a visit to the Kilis camp in Turkey on Thursday.

    She was previously a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Refugee Agency, undertaking more than 40 field trips on its behalf.