Back in March, around the time of International Women’s Day, Angelina Jolie was in Yemen as part of her work with the UNHCR for three days meeting withboth internally displaced Yemenis as well as refugees in the north and south of the country”. Six weeks later and another trip, this time a visit to Lviv, Ukraine. Her appearance was a surprise, I found out about it on Twitter because she was trending for a few hours on Saturday after photos and video of her started circulating on social media. 


Angelina has drawn attention to the situation in Ukraine on her own Instagram account in recent months, with specific focus on the consequences of conflict on children: 


This was not a UNHRC coordinated trip. As her good friend and long-time associate Arminka Helic, a member of the House of Lords, explained:


A private mission likely means that Angelina organised and funded it herself so that would include coordinating with guides and translators, local advocates to set up the meetings, hiring a video crew to document the trip, and other necessary participants that needed to be engaged in order to get sh-t done. Of course she’s aware of her profile and how her presence can attract eyeballs to the situations and the issues she’s trying to highlight but for her, always, it’s also being informed, hearing from people first-hand what their experiences are so that she can in turn share them on her platforms. Sometimes at personal risk. She’s spending financial and emotional energy in a warzone after all. And at one point during the mission, this happened: 


The work continued after that pause for safety and there is a lot of footage of her online playing with children, talking to displaced people, mourning with citizens and hearing their stories. 

Yes, she is a celebrity which means that yes, she understands the power of media and her own media power. But there’s nothing to hate here – she is using it as it should be used in her position. And no doubt at some point soon she’ll be sharing what she’s just learned, through her media connections, in a much bigger way.