Angelina Jolie visited Mosul, Iraq, on Saturday to raise awareness of the dire humanitarian situation that plagues the city almost one year after its liberation from ISIS.
As a special envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency, known as UNHCR, Jolie toured bombed-out streets and met with displaced families celebrating the second day of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was liberated by Iraqi forces in July, after three years of ISIS control. The nine-month battle to retake the ancient city left an estimated 10,000 people dead and much of the metropolis destroyed.
“This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years working with UNHCR. People here have lost everything; their homes are destroyed. They are destitute,” Jolie said while speaking outside the destroyed Grand al-Nuri Mosque, according to a UNHCR statement.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the creation of the caliphate during Friday prayers at the al-Nuri mosque in 2014. The US and Iraq governments claimed ISIS destroyed the mosque before the city was liberated last June.
Jolie urged the “international community not to forget Mosul and not to turn their attention away from its people” as they recover from years of suffering.
Describing the grim situation, Jolie said Mosul residents lacked medical supplies and basic services, such as running water.
“They are still surrounded by bodies in the rubble. After the unimaginable trauma of the occupation, they are now trying to rebuild their homes, often with little or no assistance,” Jolie said.
“It is deeply upsetting that people who have endured unparalleled brutality have so little as they try, somehow, to rebuild the lives they once had.”
Jolie, an actress and filmmaker, is well known for her international activism. She represented UNHCR first as a goodwill ambassador from 2001 to 2012, traveling to dozens of global conflict zones to advocate for displaced populations. In April 2012, she was appointed as special envoy.