This past weekend Angelina Jolie left Hollywood to meet some of the tens of thousands of families living in a Kurdish refugee camp in Dohuk, northern Iraq, and the 39-Year-old actress was left "speechless" after what she had witnessed.

Angelina Jolie
Jolie was left "speechless" by her recent visit to an Iraqi refugee camp

Jolie, who is a special envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, recalled her traumatising journey to the Middle East in an eye-opening op-ed piece published in the New York Times.

"I have visited Iraq five times since 2007, and I have seen nothing like the suffering I'm witnessing now," she writes. "I came to visit the camps and informal settlements where displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees are desperately seeking shelter from the fighting that has convulsed their region. In almost four years of war, nearly half of Syria's population of 23 million people has been uprooted. Within Iraq itself, more than two million people have fled conflict and the terror unleashed by extremist groups. These refugees and displaced people have witnessed unspeakable brutality. Their children are out of school, they are struggling to survive, and they are surrounded on all sides by violence."

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Jolie recounted how she was deeply affected by the emotional stories some Syrian and Iraqi refugees told her when they met.

"What do you say to a mother with tears streaming down her face who says her daughter is in the hands of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and that she wishes she were there, too? Even if she had to be raped and tortured, she says, it would be better than not being with her daughter," the Oscar winner continues. "What do you say to the 13-year-old girl who describes the warehouses where she and the others lived and would be pulled out, three at a time, to be raped by the men? When her brother found out, he killed himself. How can you speak when a woman your own age looks you in the eye and tells you that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she now lives alone in a tent and has minimal food rations?"

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Jolie is adamant that "only an end to the war in Syria will begin to turn the tide on these problems. Without that, we are just tinkering at the edges."

"At stake are not only the lives of millions of people and the future of the Middle East, but also the credibility of the international system. What does it say about our commitment to human rights and accountability that we seem to tolerate crimes against humanity happening in Syria and Iraq on a daily basis?" she writes. "When the United Nations refugee agency was created after World War II, it was intended to help people return to their homes after conflict. It wasn't created to feed, year after year, people who may never go home, whose children will be born stateless, and whose countries may never see peace. But that is the situation today, with 51 million refugees, asylum-seekers or displaced people worldwide, more than at any time in the organization's history."

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"Much more assistance must be found to help Syria's neighbors bear the unsustainable burden of millions of refugees," Jolie concludes. "The United Nations' humanitarian appeals are significantly underfunded. Countries outside the region should offer sanctuary to the most vulnerable refugees in need of resettlement-for example, those who have experienced rape or torture. And above all, the international community as a whole has to find a path to a peace settlement. It is not enough to defend our values at home, in our newspapers and in our institutions. We also have to defend them in the refugee camps of the Middle East, and the ruined ghost towns of Syria."