Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Jolie: Haitians 'finding ways to help themselves'

Click to play
Jolie fears for Haitian kids
  • Actress Angelina Jolie visits Haiti as good will ambassador for U.N.
  • Jolie says earthquake devastation is like nothing she's ever seen
  • Jolie says, "We have a moral duty to do what we can for any country that's suffering"
  • She says now is not the time to think of adopting Haitian children

(CNN) -- Actress Angelina Jolie says she feels passionate about Haiti, whose "extraordinary" people are inspiring her with their resilience after the devastating earthquake one month ago.

During a visit to Haiti this week, she said that despite the terrible tragedy, Haitians are dignified and calm.

Jolie, a good will ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said of the Haitians, "They're very inventive people, they're very strong people, and they're finding ways to help themselves."

"I think we have a moral duty to do what we can for any country that's suffering," she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview from Port-au-Prince.

"I think we have a very big obligation to the place. ... I'll continue to come back and I'll continue to express what I am learning."

Video: Jolie on adopting in Haiti

Jolie expressed particular concern about the fate of Haiti's children -- the amputees, the homeless and the orphans -- and worried about the risk of child trafficking.

Haiti earthquake: Numbers tell the story

"Trafficking has been a huge problem for a very long time ... so I think everybody that means well needs to really take that very seriously, and not get frustrated, but really work with the country," she said.

"And for myself, as somebody who is an adoptive parent, I understand the urge to assist in that way, but now is not the time. An emergency is not the time for new adoptions anyway."

Pressed on whether she might consider adopting a Haitian child, Jolie told Amanpour, "I'm always open to children around the world. We're that kind of family. Brad [Pitt] and I talk about that.

"But that's not what we're focusing on at this time, by any means. We're not here for that. We're here to see how we can help protect the children in the country and scale up the needs here."

Jolie said it is vital to reunite families that have been torn apart by the disaster and set up a system to register survivors. "We don't know who is an orphan. I've met [Haitian] women in the Dominican Republic in hospitals who were saying they haven't spoken to their children," she said.

"They have no cell phones, they have no way to tell their children they're alive. They can't find them yet."

She also was worried about children who lost limbs in the earthquake. "You see little kids that have lost their legs and you ask them if they are all right and they say they're OK, and somehow they are able to smile. ... I think [that] says a lot about them."

Jolie said it's vital for the world to provide sufficient housing for survivors -- housing that is strong enough to stand up to hurricanes.

"We saw a large amount of tents, new tents, but that's not necessarily going to be the answer because they've got this much bigger problem in how to find proper shelter to survive hurricanes," she said.

Last fall, hundreds of people died in flooding and landslides as two large hurricanes and a tropical storm hit the nation.

Jolie said the scale of the disaster is nothing like she's seen before. "The complexity of this before and now, and the history of this country, is something that I am still trying to wrap my head around. And it's going to be a very, very difficult road."

Part of complete coverage on
Haitians cope with wretched memories
They filled the grounds in front of the collapsed cathedral in Haiti's capital Wednesday. To remember. To cope. To pray.
Why U.S. aid workers refuse to give up
Can-Do founder Eric Klein spent most of 2010 in Haiti helping people recover from the devastating earthquake.
Haiti adoption; a new chance
What kind of parents would put their children in an orphanage?
Review of vote completed
A much-awaited review of Haiti's disputed presidential election has been completed but not yet been handed over to the president.
20,000 new jobs promised
Haiti's economy is getting a boost thanks to a venture with one of Korea's largest companies that promises to bring in 20,000 jobs.
Baby reunited with doctor
Nadine Devilme has thanked God countless times for saving her baby and has wanted to thank the doctor who treated the child after the earthquake.
To recover, Haiti needs leaders
What Haiti needs now is leadership from its sovereign government.
Bitter, displaced, Haitians wait in limbo
Amy Wilentz says a year after the earthquake, much of the funding to rebuild is stalled as aid organizations wait for the election crisis to be resolved.