GENEVA (Reuters) - Hollywood star Angelina Jolie on Tuesday accused the West of cold-heartedness and hypocrisy in trying to shut out migrants, including refugees, from Africa and other hotspots.
More than 7,000 people have died trying to get into Europe over the past decade, according to Jolie, whose comments appeared in the magazine "Refugees", published by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for whom she is a goodwill ambassador.
She expressed outrage at a photo which appeared recently in the quarterly magazine, taken on an unidentified Mediterranean beach in Spain in 2002, which showed a couple relaxing under an umbrella not far from the washed-up corpse of a black man.
"We'll never know who he was or why he ended up there and the couple on the beach apparently couldn't care less," Jolie wrote. "Someone's son, someone's brother, or someone's loved one. In fact, you or me, if we had been born at another time, or in another place."
Jolie, who has been to more than 20 countries since becoming a UNHCR goodwill ambassador five years ago, said it was a scandal that such a rich world was not feeding all people in refugee camps, especially in Africa.
Many would-be refugees fell into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers "who push them into overcrowded boats or hide them in the backs of containers, or tell them to walk across minefields or scale barbed wire fences in the middle of the night".
"Many have also died trying to get into the United States and Australia. But we don't notice," wrote the Oscar-winning actress, who is filming in India.
Ignoring simmering conflicts had proven damaging and expensive, she said, citing Bosnia, Rwanda and Afghanistan.
"I have been to some of these countries, or to their neighbors, where most of the refugees remain," said Jolie.
"It is a truly humbling experience, a shocking eye-opener. It has made me realize that we are all -- myself included -- behaving like the couple sitting under their umbrella on the beach, gazing studiously out to sea," she said.