Angelina Jolie Urges International Support for Venezuelan Children

June 9, 2019 Updated: June 9, 2019

BOGOTA—Hollywood star Angelina Jolie on Saturday, June 8, urged the international community to provide more support to three South American countries with the most migrants from crisis-hit Venezuela, saying 20,000 Venezuelan children are at risk of being without basic citizenship rights.

Jolie spoke in Colombia as a special envoy for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She is on a two-day trip to meet Venezuelan migrants there and met with Colombian President Ivan Duque in Cartagena.

Four million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have fled economic and humanitarian crisis in their homeland.

Venezuelas Juan Guaido march 6
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country’s rightful interim ruler, take part in a rally against the government of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 1, 2019. (Manaure Quintero/Reuters)

More than a million are living in Colombia, where the government and aid agencies have scrambled to provide housing, food, and healthcare to an ever-growing influx of migrants arriving in already-poor and violent border regions.

The parents of Venezuelan children born abroad often struggle to register their baby’s birth, either because they do not have access to an ever-shrinking number of Venezuelan consulates or because they do not have migration papers.

“The president and I spoke of the risk of statelessness for more than 20,000 Venezuelan children, his commitment to always helping children,” Academy Award-winner Jolie, 44, said at a press conference.

U.N. Refugee Agency’s special envoy Angelina Jolie speaks with Colombia's President Ivan Duque Marquez, in Cartagena
Special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Angelina Jolie speaks with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque Marquez, in Cartagena, Colombia on June 8, 2019. (Presidency/Handout via Reuters)

“We agreed on the urgent need for the international community to give more support to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, who are bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

Duque said he hoped the visit would alert the world to the seriousness of the migration crisis.

He, Jolie and UNHCR officials had a productive meeting on Saturday morning, Duque said, including a discussion about how to nationalize the stateless children.

Jolie visited Venezuelan migrants in Peru in October last year. She concluded her visit in the desert border town of Maicao later on Saturday.

Venezuela’s imploding economy has brought widespread shortages of basic foods and medicines, while political hostilities have led to waves of fatal violence.

The crisis has deepened since the United States imposed sanctions, including on the pivotal oil industry, in an effort to oust current socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Juan Guaido
Venezuela’s National Assembly head Juan Guaido speaks to the crowd during a mass opposition rally against socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country’s ‘acting president’, on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship, in Caracas on Jan. 23, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP)

Dozens of nations around the world recognize Guaido as interim president, saying Maduro rigged his 2018 re-election, but their support has not been enough to unseat Maduro, who still has the backing of the top military brass.

By Julia Symmes Cobb