Hollywood Superstar, Refugee Envoy Angelina Jolie Makes Burma Visit

By Kyaw Hsu Mon & Moe Myint 29 July 2015

RANGOON — Hollywood movie star Angelina Jolie arrived in Naypyidaw on Wednesday morning in her capacity as a special UN envoy for refugee issues, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs source.

“She arrived to Naypyidaw this morning, and will stay there for one day,” said an official who was among the entourage that greeted the 40-year-old actress at the airport, speaking to The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.

During her inaugural visit, arranged by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the British Embassy in Rangoon, the Academy Award winner and humanitarian activist will meet with several officials in the capital, according to a person familiar with details of the trip.

“She will spend two or three days in Burma,” the source said.

A senior official from Burma’s Ministry of Information said Jolie was due to meet with President Thein Sein, Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann and Defense Minister Wai Lwin on Wednesday.

In addition to her international renown as an actress, Jolie serves as a special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ office.

During her stay in Burma, the actress is also expected to visit troubled Arakan State, according to Khin Soe, the chief immigration officer for the state, where communal tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have simmered for years.

“We have learned that she will visit Rakhine [Arakan State] but still don’t know when,” he said.

Hla Thein, the head of the Arakan State government’s Information Department, said that visit would come on Thursday.

“She will visit Rakhine State on Thursday as a UNHCR ambassador, and will meet with the state’s [Chief] Minister U Maung Maung Ohn. But we are not sure whether she will visit the camps,” Hla Thein told The Irrawaddy, referring to the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) where more than 100,000 minority Rohingya Muslims, along with some Arakanese Buddhists, have lived since deadly violence broke out between the two communities in 2012.

As a UN special envoy, Jolie has previously visited Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burma border, where an estimated 130,000 Burmese nationals have lived for decades, fleeing conflict and poverty in eastern Burma.

Jolie arrived to Naypyidaw from Cambodia, where she planning to direct a film based on the book “First They Killed My Father,” a memoir from a survivor of the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.