London -- Actress Angelina Jolie Pitt today blasted world leaders for what she described as a woefully inadequate response to the European refugee crisis, saying she has been “very disheartened” by the U.S. response in particular.
Jolie, Special Envoy of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, gave a keynote speech today at the BBC Radio Theatre in London in connection to global migration issues.
“We have faced the worst in humanity on a global scale and we have fought back from that,” she said. “If we learn anything from the past this is what should rally us together. … Whether we succeed will define this century, ... The alternative is chaos and further displacement and a world with no order or law.”
Around 60 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes because of wars, conflict or persecution, according to the United Nations. On a global scale, that means one in 122 is displaced, the largest number since the end of World War II. On average, Jolie said, a person will be displaced for nearly 20 years.
"These are decent families who are registered and are waiting for an opportunity to come home. We should never treat them like beggars, a burden or even a threat,” she said. “None of us are immune to becoming refugees.”
She expressed disappointment in how the United States has responded to the refugee crisis during a Q&A session after the speech, calling for her home country to take on a leading role in addressing the crisis.
“As an American, I will be pressing my own government, but I have been very disheartened by my own country’s response to this situation,” she said.
When asked what she thinks of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s comments about temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, she shook her head.
“To me America is built on people from around the world coming together for freedom, and, especially freedom of religion, so it’s hard to hear that this is coming from someone who is pressing to be an American president,” said Jolie, who called for the world’s nations to accept more refugees.
“An unstable world is an unsafe world for all,” she said. “If your neighbor’s house is on fire, you are not safe if you lock your door.”
Pitt also encouraged the world community to focus more on the roots of the refugee crisis, saying that ”decades of double-standards” and “broken promises” were fundamental parts of how this crisis became a reality.
“If these things continue to happen, there will be further displacement,” she said.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has also said that the crisis is now a global phenomenon and that more nations have to help the "few nations" carrying the burden.
"There can't simply be a reaction whereby states shut down borders and push people away simply because it won't work," Italian diplomat Filippo Grandi told the BBC.
He said fewer than 1 percent of 20 million refugees had been resettled in another nation last year.