ABC’s Melissa Chee reports: While Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, was testifying on Capitol Hill, actress and activist Angelina Jolie was also in the nation’s capitol talking about Iraq.
Jolie, who is co-chair of The Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, founded by the Clinton Global Initiative to educate one million children impacted by war and conflict, spoke Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations.
While Jolie did not address the question of the U.S.’ long term military commitment to Iraq today, she has said previously that the surge has made increased humanitarian aid there possible. She did talk about her recent trip to the country and concern for the humanitarian gains made possible by decreased violence and the surge in troop levels in the past year.
“I would think that even Petraeus would agree that the surge does not just mean it works if you get numbers of violence down. It works if humanitarian aide is starting to increase and changes are able to be made,” said Jolie.
Jolie said she’s seen some progress in her own visits to Iraq and that the UN’s Refugee Agency was able to add five more staff members into the area.
The visibly pregnant Jolie spoke about her new project dedicated to helping children of war and conflict find an education.
“It is a fact that the best way to heal children in conflict and their trauma is to focus their minds on their future and give them an education,” said Jolie. “It’s also a fact that an educated population is the best guarantee for a stable and prosperous future.”
Jolie recalled visiting a Burmese refugee camp where a group of teenagers sought her out to hand her a list of things that they wanted: grammar books, dictionaries and pens.
“They are desperate for these things,” said Jolie. “They’re desperate for an education.”
Jolie said she has high hopes for the children of Iraq, many of whom have stopped going to school due to the conflict. Some 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
“We need them to grow up and be doctors and lawyers and engineers and teachers,” said Jolie. “We need them to rebuild their country, stabilize their countries and eventually lead their countries.”