"Second to my children, spending time with refugees (is) the greatest gift," says the actress

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 12, 2005 08:00 AM

Angelina Jolie accepted the United Nations Global Humanitarian Action Award on Tuesday, saying of her work as a goodwill ambassador: “Second to my children, spending time with refugees and other persons of need around the world has been the greatest gift.”

Jolie – mother of 4-year-old son Maddox, who is from Cambodia, and infant daughter Zahara, from Ethiopia – told the 700 dinner guests in New York: “After my first trip to a refugee camp, I made a promise that I would try to help others to understand everything that I was fortunate enough to witness,” the Associated Press reports.

She also said that she hoped to live up to the personal vow she made when she became a goodwill ambassador four years ago, to do everything possible to help refugees all over the world because “they deserve every bit of our effort.”

Brad Pitt, who for the past several months has been linked to the actress, did not attend the event.

At the dinner, Jolie, 30, quoted from the preamble to the U.N. Charter, which reaffirms “faith in human rights” and said, “the U.N. is the closest thing to fighting for justice.”

She added, “I feel very, very privileged to be a very small part of it.”

The dinner also paid tribute with a Global Leadership Award to Leonore Annenberg, president and chairman of The Annenberg Foundation, but the 87-year-old Annenberg was too ill to attend.

Still, she and Jolie were praised at the event by Laura Bush, who told the women in a videotaped message: “You’ve both used your gifts and talents to make the world a better place.”