The UNHCR Special Envoy and her daughter traveled to Lebanon to meet with 12-year-old Hala and her family
Last month, Angelina Jolie Pitt fulfilled one of her daughter Shiloh’s wishes – to go on a humanitarian trip with her mother, so she could meet the people she hears about at home. “Shiloh is very aware that I hold refugee families in high regard and has been asking to come on missions and meet them for many years,” Jolie told PEOPLE in June on a trip to honor World Refugee Day.
In a new video, Jolie Pitt and her 9-year-old daughter sit down with one special girl, Hala, and her family, as they tell their tale of survival and hardship in a refugee camp.
“When I met Hala in 2014, they had arrived in Lebanon as refugees,” Jolie Pitt says in the video. “One year later, I’m back with my daughter Shiloh to see how life has been.”
It’s an emotional reunion for the two, as they share a long embrace when they first see each other, with a smiling Shiloh looking on. “How have you been? Have you been drawing?” Jolie asks the young girl.
Hala and her family are just eight of 60 million people – that’s one in every 122 – displaced from their homes in the world today. Currently, the biggest single source of the refugee flow is Hala’s home country of Syria, with over 4 million people fleeing from the ongoing crisis in that country to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Over 50 percent of the 1.2 million refugees in Lebanon are children. In addition, more than 7.6 million people are currently displaced within Syria, many of whom are difficult to reach due to circumstances and location.
Hala and her brother recall that they “started to hear the bombs dropping” one night. As they were racing away, “suddenly we saw the house falling down on our mother.” Left orphaned, they headed to Lebanon in search of safety, food and shelter.
Jolie Pitt, who has worked for the United Nations refugee agency since 2001, told PEOPLE in June, “Their memories of Syria are fading. They have stopped counting the days in displacement. Nothing is certain and they feel abandoned.”
In addition, she said, “as a refugee, you cannot legally work in a host country. As a refugee, you learn how the world feels about you. You know if your suffering causes outrage and compassion – or if it is mostly ignored. Families like [Hala], living in Lebanon without parents, on half food rations and paying $100 a month to live in a tent – they know.”
Before departing, Jolie Pitt pledged to return – possibly with her daughter. “Upon leaving the family, Shiloh asked many questions. It is of course hard to explain all of the harsh realities of war and displacement. She said she felt sad, but was happy that she went and is looking forward to the next visit.”