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Angelina Jolie Visits Ecuador During First Mission As UN Special Envoy

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After celebrating her engagement to Brad Pitt with a family trip to the Galapagos Islands, Angelina Jolie headed to Ecuador for her inaugural trip as special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Jolie met with Colombian refugees this past weekend, and, judging by the photos, she did not wear her engagement ring, which cost around $500,000-1,000,000.

This was actually Jolie's third trip to Ecuador (she's been there before as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador), and she urged the country's leader to keep its open asylum policy: "As the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration nears, it is time to celebrate the resilience of the displaced people in the region and renew our commitment to laws and policies that offer them protection, safety and a chance for a dignified life." She added, "I found these people impressive and was really moved by their determination to improve their community and take it into their own hands."

Jolie visited a number of a towns, as well as one community where 24 Afro-Colombian refugees had survived on their own from 1994 until 2008, when the UNHCR turned up. She said, "Without finding safety in Ecuador, they would most likely not be alive. Nobody wants to be a refugee, to have to leave their home. Nobody wants to be living on borrowed land and to have to be begging for a visa every year and not to be able to know what their life or their children´s life is going to be, or whether they can access any jobs or get medical help."

The Oscar-winning actress has made over 40 visits during her decade as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador; the UNHCR said, "In her new role [as Special Envoy], she is expected to focus on large-scale crises resulting in the mass displacement of people, to undertake advocacy and represent UNHCR and Guterres at the diplomatic level, engaging with relevant interlocutors on global displacement issues."