SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Actress Angelina Jolie spent Christmas Day with refugees in Costa Rica as part of her work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the agency said.
Jolie arrived Monday to visit a group of mostly Colombian refugee children and families and to meet Costa Rican officials, the UNHCR said in a statement.
There are about 11,500 refugees in this Central American country. Most of them fled Colombia because of a conflict between leftist guerrillas, soldiers and paramilitary forces.
"The conflict in Colombia is the greatest humanitarian tragedy in the Western Hemisphere, but it receives very little international attention," the Oscar-winning actress said after she arrived in San Jose. "My Christmas message to Colombian refugees and to the millions of displaced people in Colombia is that the world has not totally forgotten them."
An estimated three million Colombians have been forced from their homes by more than two decades of armed conflict, and most are internally displaced, essentially refugees in their own country.
Another 500,000 have fled to other countries in the region. Together, the UNHCR said they make up the largest single population of concern anywhere in the world.
UNHCR said this was Jolie's second trip to the region since she became a goodwill ambassador for the refugee agency in 2001. It said she went to Ecuador in 2002 and later wrote a personal journal of her meetings with Colombian refugees in that country.