The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has released a new, moving short film following the agency’s Special Envoy Angelina Jolie as she visits a Syrian refugee camp in al-Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, and meets with 11-year-old Hala and her five orphan siblings.
It is good to see a high-profile celebrity highlighting the plight of Syrian refugees and showing the human face of what is described as the “biggest humanitarian crisis in history”. But it is disappointing to see how, once again, such humanitarian messages are often depoliticised. Despite spending time with Hala and her brothers and hearing their story, Angelina Jolie tells us nothing in the video (and in the interview she did with CNN) about how exactly their parents were killed and by whom. Not even where in Syria they are from. We only learn that Hala’s mother was killed in an air strike that hit their house about a year ago. We would have liked to hear the Goodwill Ambassador saying something – at least one word – about the perpetrators of this and other crimes committed in Syria. Who did the aircraft that destroyed their home belong to? Who paid for it, and for the fuel and the missile that hit the house? Who was the pilot? Who gave the orders and why?… and so on and so forth.