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Angelina Jolie pleas for Pakistan flood aid

By Claire Truscott
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 05:50:00 09/09/2010

Filed Under: Celebrities, Flood, Foreign Aid, Graft & Corruption, Relief & Aid Organisations

ISLAMABAD?Hollywood star Angelina Jolie urged people on Wednesday to put aside corruption fears and donate cash to help Pakistan's 21 million flood victims, as she ended a tour of areas devastated by deluges.

Pakistan's government has been heavily criticized at home and abroad over perceived corruption, which many attribute to the slow pace of donations to the UN's flood appeal, which has raised two thirds of its $460-million goal.

"I don't want some people to use it (corruption) as an excuse not to give assistance," Jolie told reporters at the UN refugee agency's Islamabad office.

"I have seen what they have done in the field. I've physically seen people assisted, so if you are nervous about giving money directly in one way there are other ways to do it," she said.

There have been allegations that aid funds have been mishandled since the start of the floods crisis six weeks ago, and despite massive relief efforts by the UN, United States and other donors, the UN has spoken of Pakistan's "image deficit" affecting donations.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said its own appeal is only half-funded, and Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said extra monies were "still stagnating".

Jolie, clad in a grey dress and black head scarf, spoke after visiting the militant-hit northwest of the country, home to 1.7 million long-term Afghan refugees who have fled fighting in their neighbouring country.

"I think the size of this disaster's one that I have never seen the scale of," said Jolie.

The UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, visited flood survivors near the town of Kandhkot in the worst-affected Sindh province on Wednesday and said relief efforts needed to be "redoubled".

Addressing corruption allegations, she told AFP: "Our job is to make sure that the support that we give -- be it shelter, be it food aid, be it in terms of providing access to water and sanitation -- that it is done in an impartial and independent way.

Amos said any suggestion of corruption involving aid provided by UN agencies or outside bodies working with the UN would be investigated.

On Tuesday Jolie, 35, a roving envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, spent time talking to long-term Afghan refugees, Pakistani communities and aid workers in Khyber Pakhtunwa province.

It was Jolie's fourth visit to Pakistan since she became a UNHCR goodwill ambassador in 2001.

Speaking of the flood-hit villagers she had met during her travels to the northwest, she said she was particularly moved by an elderly couple in their 70s who had built their lives from nothing and seen it all washed away.

"If I could put a face on this disaster it would be those wonderful, kind, funny and hard working people who lost everything," said Jolie.

She said she met women who had lost children, and children who asked her only for electricity, water and food, among the many "resilient" survivors.

"They have been hit and lost so much that they kind of feel that they need to go with God and hope that something, anything, is going to make the situation better," she said.

Asked if she would consider adopting a child from Pakistan, Jolie -- a mother-of-six including three adopted children from abroad -- said she would not consider it because of religious sensitivities.

"There are different feelings about adoption in Muslim countries so I would never consider adjusting those rules," she said, adding that there were other ways to sponsor a child.

The UNHCR is providing relief aid including shelter materials to those displaced by the disaster, which has killed 1,760 people by the official toll.

Copyright 2015 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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