Jolie, a TIME contributing editor and Special Envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), spoke with Felsenthal during the TIME 100: Finding Hope virtual summit, which gathered the world’s top leaders to discuss the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. They discussed her recent article for TIME’s special TIME 100: Finding Hope issue, in which members of of the TIME 100 community wrote about how they are navigating the pandemic.
Coronavirus has shown “the cracks in our systems across the world,” Jolie told Felsenthal. Even before pandemic, 258 million children globally were out of school, 30 million were displaced and in America alone more than 11 million children faced severe food insecurity, she explained. “We should never have children around the world that vulnerable,” she said.
Now that the virus has shuttered schools, quarantined people in their homes and led to widespread economic shortfalls, children are suffering to an even greater extent with these and other issues.
“This is a time for outrage,” Jolie said. “For grand change across the world.”
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For many children, school is more than just a place to learn, Jolie explained — it’s a place that can provide their only nutritious meal of the day, offering a support network of peers and an escape from unhealthy home environments. For children living with an abuser, school is also a place for “the bruises to be noticed,” she continued. Now that they must stay at home, experts worry child abuse is going unnoticed.
Felsenthal and Jolie also discussed how relief work has continued during the pandemic. Thousands of her colleagues from the UNHCR are still working on the front lines in refugee camps, and while the camps have not yet experienced an outbreak of the virus, experts worry that if an outbreak occurs it will “spread far and fast,” she said. “This is really a frightening time,” she added.
But still, Jolie said she believes the world can band together. “I believe in humanity. I have hope. And I think we really can’t afford not to have hope,” she told Felsenthal. “I think when people are aware, and if they can have a path forward guiding them with how to help and what to do, they will.”
This article is part of #TIME100Talks: Finding Hope, a special series featuring leaders across different fields sharing their ideas for navigating the pandemic. Want more? Sign up for access to more virtual events, including live conversations with influential newsmakers.
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