Angelina Jolie pleaded with world powers on Friday to help the millions of Syrian refugees, sharply criticizing the U.N. Security Council for being paralyzed by its division over Syria's four-year conflict.
Jolie briefed the council as special envoy for the UN on refugee issues. Jolie, who said she has made 11 visits to Syrian refugees in the region since the crisis began in 2011, called strongly for the political will to act.
The U.N. estimates that about 3.8 million people have fled Syria and 7.6 million others have been displaced in the last four years. Some 220,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011, when peaceful protests erupted against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but gradually developed into a complex and bloody civil war.
"The problem is not lack of information. We know in excruciating detail what is happening in Aleppo, in Homs," Jolie said. "The problem is lack of political will. We cannot look at Syria and the evil that has risen from the ashes of indecision and think this is not the lowest point in the world's inability to protect and defend the innocent."
“Not enough people realize all that the United Nations does around the world,” Jolie said. "But all of this good is being undermined by the message being sent in Syria -- that laws can be flouted, chemical weapons can be used, hospitals can be bombed, aid can be withheld, and civilians starved, with impunity."
"We are standing by in Syria," she said, adding that the council's powers lie unused because its members cannot agree on how to address the conflict.
Jolie pleaded with the council to “work as one and end the conflict” by first imposing sanctions and an arms embargo on Syria. Russia, a top Syria ally and backed by China, has vetoed multiple council resolutions on Syria, including an effort last year to refer the situation there to the International Criminal Court. She said she would like to see the foreign minister of each of the 15 council members come to the table to negotiate a political solution.
In addition, Jolie spoke about the rising migrant crisis on the Mediterranean. Over the past three weeks more than 1,300 migrants fleeing Syria and other places have drowned at sea due to overcrowded boats that sink.
"It is sickening to see thousands of refugees drowning on the doorstep of the world's wealthiest continent," she said. "No one risks the lives of their children in this way except out of utter desperation."
Here are a few ways you can help Syrian refugees and make a difference.
Contributing: The Associated Press