'She was very moved by their stories. One girl was even able to tell Ms. Jolie about her dream privately.'
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie on Saturday visited the Ukrainian city of Lviv, where she met with civilians who've been displaced by Russia's ongoing invasion of their country. According to Reuters, during her visit to the central railway station, the 46-year-old spoke to volunteers working with the displaced and heard how each of the psychiatrists on duty talked with about 15 people a day. A number of those taking shelter at the station amid Russia's unrelenting attacks on the nation are said to be children between the ages of 2 and 10.
Actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie visits the central railway station in Lviv to welcome the internally displaced Ukrainians arriving on an evacuation train from Pokrovsk, a city in Donetsk Oblast, on April 30. Jolie is a special envoy of UNHCR.— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 30, 2022
Photo: Ukrainian Railways. pic.twitter.com/KNmnKyYur8
"They must be in shock... I know how trauma affects children, I know just having somebody show how much they matter, how much their voices matter, I know how healing that is for them," she told volunteers after learning of the devastating experience the children are living through at such a young age. Although Jolie and her aides had to leave the station when air-raid sirens started to sound, the "Eternals" star also paid a surprise visit to a boarding school and medical institution in the city on Saturday. "In one of the medical institutions, she has visited children who suffered from a missile strike by the Russian military on the Kramatorsk train station," said Maksym Kozytskyy, head of Lviv's regional military administration, reports CNN.
"She was very moved by their stories. One girl was even able to tell Ms. Jolie about her dream privately," Kozytskyy added. While visiting a boarding school in Lviv—which has become a waypoint for displaced people, humanitarian aid and weapons—the actress told the children she'd come back, he said. Kozytskyy also revealed that Jolie expressed gratitude to the volunteers providing medical and psychological assistance at the station. "She thanked them for their work," he said. "She talked to people who managed to leave the zones of active hostilities."
"This visit was a surprise for all of us," Kozytskyy wrote on Facebook. "Many people who saw Mrs. Jolie in the Lviv region could not believe that it was really her. But from February 24, Ukraine has shown the whole world that there are plenty of incredible things here. It's very valuable that we have support from people of this level. We will surely win." Although Jolie is a United Nations special envoy for refugees, Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams—the head of global communications for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees—said the star traveled to the region in a personal capacity and that the UNHCR had no involvement in this visit.
Meanwhile, tweeting a photo of Jolie at the central railway station in the middle of a large group of crowds on Saturday, the Kyiv Independent reported that the actress was there "to welcome the internally displaced Ukrainians arriving on an evacuation train from Pokrovsk, a city in Donetsk Oblast." Other footage shared on Twitter shows Jolie holding the hand of what seemed like an older man to comfort him as she was surrounded by an entourage.
In an Instagram post last month, Jolie called attention to the lasting impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on Ukrainian children. "As well as the millions who’ve fled over Ukraine’s borders, nearly 2 million people are displaced inside their country, many trapped by fighting, denied access to aid, and in direct physical danger," she wrote. "Without an end to the war children will pay the highest price – in trauma, lost childhoods and shattered lives."