ISLAMABAD: Hollywood star Angelina Jolie urged people on Wednesday to put aside corruption fears and donate cash to help Pakistan’s 21 million flood victims, as she ended a tour of areas devastated by deluges.
Pakistan’s government has been heavily criticised at home and abroad over perceived corruption, which many attribute to the slow pace of donations to the UN’s flood appeal, which has raised two thirds of its 460 million dollar goal.
“I don’t want some people to use it (corruption) as an excuse not to give assistance,” Jolie told reporters at the UN refugee agency’s Islamabad office.
“I have seen what they have done in the field. I’ve physically seen people assisted, so if you are nervous about giving money directly in one way there are other ways to do it,” she said.
Jolie, clad in a grey dress and black head scarf, spoke after visiting the northwest of the country, home to 1.7 million long-term Afghan refugees who have fled fighting in their neighbouring country.
“I think the size of this disaster’s one that I have never seen the scale of,” said Jolie.
On Tuesday Jolie, 35, a roving envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, spent time talking to long-term Afghan refugees, Pakistani communities and aid workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
It was Jolie’s fourth visit to Pakistan since she became a UNHCR goodwill ambassador in 2001.
Speaking of the flood-hit villagers she had met during her travels to the northwest, she said she was particularly moved by an elderly couple in their 70s who had built their lives from nothing and seen it all washed away.
“If I could put a face on this disaster it would be those wonderful, kind, funny and hard working people who lost everything,” said Jolie.
She said she met women who had lost children, and children who asked her only for electricity, water and food, among the many “resilient” survivors.
“They have been hit and lost so much that they kind of feel that they need to go with God and hope that something, anything, is going to make the situation better,” she said.
Asked if she would consider adopting a child from Pakistan, Jolie —a mother-of-six including three adopted children from abroad —said she would not consider it because of religious sensitivities.
“There are different feelings about adoption in Muslim countries so I would never consider adjusting those rules,” she said, adding that there were other ways to sponsor a child.