Actress Angelina Jolie visited thousands of displaced Syrian children in Lebanon this weekend.
In a surprise three-day visit, Jolie, who is also a U.N. special envoy for refugee services, spent time with 3,500 orphaned and displaced children living in the eastern Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Children make up an estimated one-third of all Syrians displaced by the fighting between President Bashar Assad’s government and opposition rebels over the last three years, the Associated Press reports.
‘‘Meeting these children was a heart-rending experience,’’ Jolie said in a statement. ‘‘They have lost their families and their childhood has been hijacked by war. They are so young, yet they are bearing the burdens of their reality as if they are adults.’’
The U.N. estimates that the number of Syrian refugees and displaced persons add up to about one-third of Syria’s pre-war population. An estimated 2.5 million Syrians are refugees and 4.2 million are displaced.