Angelina Jolie, United Nations Ambassador, Says She's 'Praying for the People of Ukraine'

Angelia Jolie says she wants to "ensure the protection and basic human rights of those displaced, and refugees in the region" of Ukraine as Russian invades

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie. Photo: JIM LO SCALZO/Shutterstock

Angelina Jolie is "praying for the people in Ukraine" amid the Russian invasion.

In a statement on Instagram Thursday, the actress — who also serves as Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) — said that her "focus along with my @refugees colleagues is that everything possible is done to ensure the protection and basic human rights of those displaced, and refugees in the region."

"We have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety," said Jolie, 46. "It is too soon to know what will happen, but the significance of this moment — for the people of Ukraine, and for the international rule of law — cannot be overstated."

She also shared a link to the UNHCR's statement, which reads, "We are gravely concerned about the fast-deteriorating situation and ongoing military action in Ukraine."

"The humanitarian consequences on civilian populations will be devastating," it continues. "There are no winners in war, but countless lives will be torn apart."

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The UNHCR says they "have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety," adding, "Civilian lives and civilian infrastructure must be protected and safeguarded at all times, in line with International Humanitarian Law."

According to the group, they are "working with the authorities, UN and other partners in Ukraine and is ready to provide humanitarian assistance wherever necessary and possible. To that effect, security and access for humanitarian efforts must be guaranteed."

"UNHCR is also working with governments in neighboring countries, calling on them to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection. We stand ready to support efforts by all to respond to any situation of forced displacement," they add.

The UNHCR concludes, "Accordingly, we have stepped up our operations and capacity in Ukraine and neighboring countries. We remain firmly committed to support all affected populations in Ukraine and countries in the region."

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Russia began an invasion of Ukraine earlier this week, according to the Ukraine government, with forces moving from the north, east and south. The attack is still-evolving but explosions and airstrikes have been reported, with threats mounting against the capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million people.

Numerous residents have been seen trying to flee. "We are facing a war and horror. What could be worse?" one 64-year-old woman living in Kyiv told the Associated Press.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression toward Ukraine has been widely condemned by the international community, including with economic sanctions and NATO troops massing in the region. Putin, 69, insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the interest of so-called "peacekeeping."

"The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces," U.S. President Joe Biden said as the invasion appeared to begin force this week.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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