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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April, 2003, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Jolie backs Sri Lanka peace
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has called on the international community to back Sri Lanka's peace process after two decades of war.

Angelina Jolie
Ms Jolie has pledged support for the peace process
The Oscar-winning actress has spent several days touring the north of the country as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations' refugee body, the UNHCR.

Ms Jolie also donated $10,000 to help rebuild a children's ward of a hospital in the northern Jaffna region.

While visiting the area she met a group of 500 girls who had been orphaned by the war.

Ms Jolie said she was prepared to offer further support to help Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission.

'Working hard'

"I have a lot of hope for this place," she told AFP news agency.

"The international community must support this country so that it has a chance to achieve peace. People here deserve it and they have been working hard at it."

Ms Jolie said she was saddened by orphaned girls saying they did not wish to be mothers when they grew up.

Sri Lankan children
Children have been major victims of the war
"They wanted to be doctors and teachers - but not one of them wanted to be a mother; that is very strange," she told reporters.

Ms Jolie gave the donation of $10,000 to a paediatric ward of a hospital in Jaffna after being made aware of how it was struggling with just one doctor and five nurses.

She was visiting Sri Lanka ahead of a major donor conference, due to take place in Tokyo in June to attract international funds to help rebuild the island.

The UNHCR says more than 271,000 Sri Lankans returned to their homes last year after being displaced by the conflict between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Ceasefire

A further 10,000 to 12,000 people have been returning every month since the start of this year.

Their confidence has been raised since the signing of a ceasefire agreement in February 2002 and a series of peace talks which began last September.

Angelina Jolie, who has won awards for Hollywood films including "Tomb Raider" and "Girl Interrupted", has also visited war-hit countries in Africa, Latin America and in other parts of Asia.

She adopted a baby boy in Cambodia after falling in love with the country while making Tomb Raider.


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