Envoy Angelina Jolie urges better treatment of refugees

NAIROBI, Kenya — Actress and U.N. refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie on Tuesday denounced the impunity with which rape is committed in conflict zones and the mistreatment of vulnerable women and children.

Jolie spoke in Kenya to mark World Refugee Day. She visited a training center on how to prevent sexual violence in conflict and met with refugees from conflicts in Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia and Congo.

"The reality is that women and girls as well as boys and men can still be raped with near-total impunity in conflict zones around the world, and there are still appalling cases of rape and mistreatment of vulnerable women, children and men by peacekeepers sent to protect them," she said.

Jolie added: "The horror of sexual violence is compounded when it is carried out by someone in uniform who has a taken an oath to protect."

The way people treat refugees, the majority of who are women and children, is a measure of humanity, she said, according to a statement by the U.N. refugee agency.

"Not only have they had to flee extreme violence or persecution, lost everything and witnessed the death of family members, but they have also had to face so much abuse and intolerance and hardship. They are doing their best to carry on with minimal support, trying to live lives of dignity against impossible odds," Jolie said.

Kenya is home to nearly 491,000 refugees from conflicts in neighboring countries. A Kenyan court recently stopped the government from closing what had been the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab, and sending more than 200,000 people back to Somalia. The court said the government had not proved Somalia is safe for refugees to return.