Angelina Jolie has announced she will be stepping down from her role as an ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency after more than 20 years.
The Oscar-winning actor said refugees were “the people I admire most in the world”, and would now focus her time working with organisations “led by people most directly affected by conflict”.
Jolie (47) is known for her activism as much as her glittering career, which includes star roles in films including Mr and Mrs Smith, Maleficent, Wanted, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
She has worked with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) since 2001, and in 2012 was appointed Special Envoy.
Writing on Instagram, Jolie said she would spend “the rest of my life” working with refugees.
“After over 20 years, I am stepping down today from my work with the UN Refugee Agency,” she said.
“I believe in many things the UN does, particularly the lives it saves through emergency relief. UNHCR is full of amazing people making a difference to people’s lives every day.
“Refugees are the people I admire most in the world and I am dedicated to working with them for the rest of my life.
“I will be working now with organisations led by people most directly affected by conflict, that give the greatest voice to them.”
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The UNHCR also issued a joint statement with the actress, which praised her for her “tireless” work in over 60 field missions in countries including Yemen and Burkina Faso, and described her as “one of the most influential proponents of refugee rights”.
In it, Jolie said that she was “grateful for the privilege and opportunity” to work with “dedicated” members of the organisation.
“I will continue to do everything in my power in the years to come to support refugees and other displaced people,” she said.
“After 20 years working within the UN system I feel it is time for me to work differently, engaging directly with refugees and local organisations, and supporting their advocacy for solutions”.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said: “Angelina Jolie has been an important humanitarian partner of UNHCR.
“We are grateful for her decades of service, her commitment, and the difference she has made for refugees and people forced to flee.
“After a long and successful time with UNHCR, I appreciate her desire to shift her engagement and support her decision.
“I know the refugee cause will remain close to her heart, and I am certain she will bring the same passion and attention to a wider humanitarian portfolio. I look forward to our continued friendship.”