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    Jolie lashes at West refugee policy

    By Staff

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006
    Geneva (Reuters): Hollywood star Angelina Jolie accused the West of cold-heartedness and hypocrisy in trying to shut out migrants, including refugees, from Africa and other hotspots. More than 7,000 people have died trying to get into Europe over the past decade, according to Jolie, whose comments appeared in the magazine ''Refugees'', published by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for whom she is a goodwill ambassador. She expressed outrage at a photo which appeared recently in the quarterly magazine, taken on an unidentified Mediterranean beach in Spain in 2002, which showed a couple relaxing under an umbrella not far from the washed-up corpse of a black man. ''We'll never know who he was or why he ended up there and the couple on the beach apparently couldn't care less,'' Jolie wrote. ''Someone's son, someone's brother, or someone's loved one. In fact, you or me, if we had been born at another time, or in another place.''

    Jolie, who has been to more than 20 countries since becoming a UNHCR goodwill ambassador five years ago, said it was a scandal that such a rich world was not feeding all people in refugee camps, especially in Africa. Many would-be refugees fell into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers ''who push them into overcrowded boats or hide them in the backs of containers, or tell them to walk across minefields or scale barbed wire fences in the middle of the night''. ''Many have also died trying to get into the United States and Australia. But we don't notice,'' wrote the Oscar-winning actress, who is filming in India.

    Ignoring simmering conflicts had proven damaging and expensive, she said, citing Bosnia, Rwanda and Afghanistan. ''I have been to some of these countries, or to their neighbours, where most of the refugees remain,'' said Jolie. ''It is a truly humbling experience, a shocking eye-opener. It has made me realise that we are all -- myself included -- behaving like the couple sitting under their umbrella on the beach, gazing studiously out to sea,'' she said.

    The couple, donated 100,000 dollar to a foundation established in his memory, Pitt's spokeswoman said. The gift to the Daniel Pearl Foundation was presented on what would have been the 43rd birthday of the late Wall Street Journal reporter, who was abducted in Pakistan and killed in 2002 while researching a story in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

    Jolie and Pitt arrived in India last week to begin production on the Pearl biographical drama A Mighty Heart, based on a memoir of the same name by the correspondent's widow, Mariane Pearl, who Jolie plays in the movie. Pitt is a producer on the project through his Plan B film company, and British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom, whose credits include ''Welcome to Sarajevo'' and ''The Road to Guantanamo,'' is directing. Actor Dan Futterman, whose screenplay for the film Capote earned an Oscar nomination, portrays Pearl in the movie.

    ''On this day our thoughts go out to Danny's family,'' Pitt and Jolie said in a statement issued to People magazine through their representative, Trevor Neilson. Pitt's personal publicist, Cindy Guagenti, confirmed the donation. The Daniel Pearl Foundation, which promotes cross-cultural understanding through journalism and music, was observing Pearl's birthday with a series of music festivals around the world, the Pitt-Jolie statement said.

    Jolie, who won an Oscar for her supporting role as a psychiatric patient in ''Girl, Interrupted,'' gave birth this past summer in Africa to her first biological child, daughter Shiloh Nouvel, with off-screen paramour Pitt. The two co-starred as married assassins assigned to kill each other in the action comedy Mr and Mrs Smith.

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