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Strong 'n feminine

NO ACTING this role. The series of premieres in major film capitals organised for the new Tomb Raider film saw Angelina Jolie missing for a few days.

On August 21, she exchanged a designer gown for a white tee shirt and flew off to Russia. For two years now, Jolie has been a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Last week she was in the troubled province of Chechnya, visiting refugee camps housing over 12,000 displaced Chechens, victims of the internal strife in this troubled part of the Russian Federation. Trudging through one tent colony after another, she spoke to dozens of inmates, mostly women, who had harrowing stories to tell.

Some camps like the ones at Bela and Sputnik in the Republic of Ingushetia were due to be closed — to bolster official claims that the situation in neighbouring Chechnya was normal.

But the ground reality she saw seemed otherwise, and Jolie pleaded with the local government not to repatriate the displaced Chechens till they felt safe going home.

Jolie is no stranger to human suffering: As Goodwill Ambassador she has visited the Balkans, Africa, Latin America and the Thai-Myanmar border in South Asia.

She was at the Kakuma Camp in Kenya in October last year, sharing the grief of young girls forced to flee their homes.

After her intervention, female police were posted in the camp to prevent women from being abducted.

She was moved to make a personal donation of $ 200,000 of which a quarter was used straight away to construct a girls' school.

In fact Jolie was in Kenya to shoot portions of the second Lara Croft adventure, and took time off when she heard of the situation in Kakuma camp. ``It is wonderful and humbling that someone so busy should find time to come here to use her renown and her presence to bring some joy into what is a hard life for many people here,'' said UNHCR"s Kenya representative George Okoth-Obbo. Where and what next? She doesn't know — but as she arranges her film schedules she knows that she will not keep all of them. The next war, the next humanitarian fallout will see Angelina Jolie peel off from the set, to fulfil her mission of mercy for UNHCR.— A.P

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