Angelina Jolie visits refugees in Lebanon as Syria marks five years since war broke out

Angelina Jolie visited refugees in Lebanon Credit: Reuters

Video report by International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar

Hollywood star and United Nations ambassador Angelina Jolie has been to Lebanon to meet refugee families fleeing the five-year civil war in Syria.

The actress, a special envoy for the UN's refugee unit, said she hoped that her visit would help highlight how the Middle East and Africa were still sheltering most of those who had escaped - despite talk of the refugee crisis in Europe.

The number of refugees is now higher than the last time we had a World War. We are at an exceptionally difficult moment internationally, when the consequences of the refugee crisis seem to be outstripping our will and capacity and even our courage to respond to it.

Angelina Jolie

Five years on from the start of the war in Syria, there are some 4.8 million refugees being housed in neighbouring countries, hundreds of thousands in Europe and still 6.6m more displaced within Syria.

The country's pre-war population was 20m.

Jolie visited 38-year-old mother-of-four Kholoud, who was left paralysed three years ago by a sniper, in her tented settlement in the Bekaa.

She also visited the capital city Beirut where she met a group of women forced to live in a damp communal shelter, which leaves them and their families at high risk of contracting potentially fatal diseases.

The anniversary comes during a ceasefire - albeit an extremely troubled one with numerous reports of violations - and Russia's pledge to begin withdrawing its forces, both of which have provided a glimmer of hope for the country's besieged citizens.

Jolie called on governments to take stronger action to help refugees Credit: Reuters

Meanwhile, in Europe, several countries have built fences and increased border controls in a bid to cope with the influx of refugees.

The EU is now in talks with Turkey to try to draw up an agreement which could potentially see asylum seekers who have set off from Turkish shores sent back.

Jolie called on leaders around the world to take stronger action.

My plea today is that we need governments around the world to show leadership: to analyse the situation and understand exactly what their country can do, how many refugees they can assist and how, in which particular communities and to what timeframe; to explain this to their citizens and address fears - based not on emotion but on a measured assessment of what can and must be done to share the responsibility and get on top of this situation.

Angelina Jolie