Angelina Jolie’s humanitarian work is no surprise to many. What is a surprise is the media coverage her recent visit as a UN envoy received and the positive impact it has had.
For a change, Brangelina's visit to the Galapagos Islands was not the focus of media attention, but rather, Jolie's visit to the Ecuador-Colombian border grabbed headlines.
After touring the Galapagos with her family, Angelina stayed on the mainland for her third visit with UNHCR to the Northern Ecuador area. And, her visit had an immediate impact on the country's refugees.
For background, most refugees living in Ecuador, who have fled conflict from Columbia, live in extreme poverty in urban areas. Ecuador has made some strides in recent years to create more favorable conditions, but there is still a long road ahead.
Yet, immediately upon Jolie's visit to the country, the Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs office began working a mile minute, and put a priority on refugee issue in Ecuador.
Having a figure like Jolie at the forefront of the effort to improve the situation of Ecuadorian refugees has brought a powerful, media-friendly ally to fight an acute issue that both the international community and Ecuadorian Society tend to ignore. Only those working in the human rights field know what over 54,500 officially recognized refugees (there may be many more) go through on a daily basis in Ecuador.
According to UNHCR, Ecuador has the largest refugee population in Latin America.
Jolie's constant presence holds the country's agencies more accountable and puts pressure on local authorities to prioritize this issue.
This represents her first trip as a Special envoy for the refugee agency, thus formally taking part in a more diplomatic role, engaging in advocacy, and dealing with key actors. Jolie knows very well what she’s doing and the impact she can have, in media and political affairs.
Jolie’s first two visits to Ecuador were low key, reported at most by one or two local magazines. Let’s just hope Jolie’s visit to the country become routine.
An issue which has been highly neglected by media when it should be a priority has found in Jolie, its strongest partner.