“Why are you not Angelina Jolie?”

he asked me intensely when I reached out my hand to give him a bar of soap, during a collective solidarity initiative, which was organised by the Binio Squat and the Workers’ Centre of Mytilene. The initiative took place on 21 June 2015 toward migrants and refugees who were living in the then temporary camp in the area of Kara Tepe in Mytilene.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, my friend, I’m not Angelina, but why do you say that?” I asked, without knowing that exactly the previous day the actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador had visited a refugee camp on the southeast coast of Turkey, in Mardin, in the context of World Refugee Day [1]. 

“Instead of just giving me this soap like you have, she could change my wet mattress and my muddy tent and give me a better place to live.”

The previous day, he later explained, a friend of his who lived in the Mardin camp complained to Angelina Jolie about his bed, and the actor, acting immediately, asked those in charge to replace it, which happened immediately. 

After he told me this story, he threw the soap he held in his hands, asking angrily: “of what use is this to me?” and I, chewing my words, ended up stuttering–I’m not sure he even heard me: “I’m sorry I’m me.”

I don’t know whether my friend was still on the island some months later, when Angelina Jolie visited the Moria hotspot (17 March 2016) and if he managed to address his requests to her.  What is certain is that the actor, in a meeting she had with NGOs and agencies on the island, declared her pessimism as to what extent an immediate response to the migrant and refugee crisis could be given. [2] In addition, in answer to a question regarding the consequences of the “refugee issue” for the economy of Lesvos and the need to stimulate tourism, she promised she would come on holidays to the island with her family. [3]

Naya Tselepi
December 2019




Lesvos news net, 17.3.16,