WASHINGTON – Actress Angelina Jolie used her star power Thursday to draw attention to a new law assisting the world's orphans and to push for funding.
The law, the Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act, was signed last week by President Bush. It directs the government to evaluate the effectiveness of U.S. assistance aimed at the more than 143 million orphans living in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean. It also directs Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to appoint a special adviser to work on the crisis.
But the law still needs to be backed up by $340 million in funding, said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. That's about one-tenth of what the U.S. is expected to devote to the global AIDS crisis this year. Many orphans lost one or both of their parents to AIDS.
"By fully funding this legislation, we would be saying to the world that we believe that the life of a child in the poorest country is just as important, just as valuable, as the lives of the children in the United States," Jolie said at an event in a congressional office building celebrating enactment of the legislation.
Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, adopted a Cambodian orphan in 2002. She won a supporting-actress Oscar for 1999's "Girl, Interrupted."