THE noted Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, married to the Hollywood superstar ‘Brad Pitt’, last week left behind her blond husband and her six children — one of them a Syrian, adopted just recently — to visit Lebanon on the fifth anniversary of the Syrian crisis to get first hand information on the conditions of the displaced children.
This is the second time, on a cold and rainy day Jolie is visiting the Syrian camps in her capacity as a special UN delegate for the Affairs of Refugees.
The weather did not prevent Jolie from what she had set out to do. Sporting a simple navy blue jacket and tying her hair made wet by rain water during an open air press conference she said in Arabic ‘Thank you, Lebanon’, at the end of her conference.
She expressed her appreciation for the Lebanese, calling it a nation of exemplary generosity, humanity and endurance for showing solidarity with the Syrians.
She disclosed Lebanon as a host nation to one million displaced Syrians which is nearly one quarter of Lebanon’s population at a time when some countries have not hesitated to shut the ‘door’ in the faces of these less fortunate people.
The number of refugees which Jolie consoled today is more than the number of refugees during World War II. She told the journalists, “I know what is playing on your mind. You might be saying, ‘What is this madness, what I am doing out there in the rain’?”
She told them, “Recently, I met a disabled Syrian woman and right now she is living in a tent and the same rain water might be falling on her head too, but she is smiling, not grumbling.”
We dedicate the words spoken by this wise woman to the decision-makers of our region who have collectively punished Lebanon for the sins of one group.
However, this is not what I want to harp on. What I actually want to say is none of the celebrities in the Arab world who travel in and out of Lebanon to attend functions, programs and competitions have taken time to visit the camps of our Syrian brothers who have abandoned their homes and resources in their once beautiful country which now resembles a pile of debris.
For example, why do we not see in these camps someone from among us, such as the Emirati singer Ahlam who calls herself ‘Queen’ and boasts about wearing ‘million-dollar’ dresses laced with gold and diamonds’ sharing the agony of mothers and their children and donate towards a good cause part of what Allah, the Almighty has given her?
The Westerners, who some of us call unbelievers, follow the instructions of our religion — tolerance, charity work and sympathy towards the needy – why not us?
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli – Former Minister of Oil