UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie Pitt visited Jam Mai Kaung camp in Kachin State capital Myitkyina on Thursday, after plans to visit internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sittwe were scuttled due to a cyclone warning.
Accompanied by her adopted son, Maddox, the Hollywood star toured the camp in her capacity as a special envoy for UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
Jam Mai Kaung is a government-supplied camp, sheltering tens of thousands of Kachin villagers displaced by ongoing conflict between government forces and Kachin rebels. The camp is renowned for poor sanitation and is prone to flooding. Outbreaks of diarrhoea have, on occasion, led to the deaths of IDPs.
Earlier, Jolie was met at Myitkyina airport by Kachin State Chief Minister La John Ngan Hsai.
She met Burmese President Thein Sein and parliamentary house speaker Shwe Mann in Naypyidaw the day before.
According to a press release issued by the British embassy in Rangoon, Jolie Pitt is on a four-day visit to Burma ‘to learn more about the situation in the country and encourage efforts to build a peaceful and inclusive future for all its people.”
It added that she would also seek engagements in her capacity as co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.
In a statement carried by the British embassy, Jolie said, “I am looking forward to meeting with many people including women’s groups, civil society, displaced people and youth, to learn firsthand from them about their concerns and hopes for the future of their country. With elections on the horizon in November it is an important moment for people to exercise their democratic rights and help to address the fundamental issues critical to a peaceful future.”
She arrived in Burma from Cambodia, where she was visiting health, education and conservation projects funded by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation since 2003, and beginning preparations to direct the film First They Killed My Father based on a child’s experience of the years of turmoil in the country.
Her son Maddox is of Cambodian descent.
Although this is Jolie’s first visit to Burma, last year, she visited Karenni refugees at the Thai-Burmese border, again as an envoy for UNHCR.
According to the UNHCR website: “Jolie Pitt previously represented UNHCR as a Goodwill Ambassador, and in this role she conducted more than 40 field visits around the world, becoming well-versed in the phenomenon of forced displacement and a tireless advocate on their behalf.”
Married to fellow US actor Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie is known for her roles in blockbuster Hollywood movies such as Girl, Interrupted, Gone in 60 Seconds and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.