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Jolie reaches out to Italian islanders over migrants' plight

Angelina Jolie addressed locals on a tiny Italian island on Sunday (19Jun11), urging them to be compassionate about the plight of African refugees.

Jolie continued her high-profile work as an ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees by visiting the island of Lampedusa, which has been overwhelmed by an estimated 20,000 migrants fleeing from Tunisia and Libya following the uprisings over the spring (11).

In a bid to calm tensions brewing between the 6,000 native islanders and the migrants, Jolie reached out to the residents during a ceremony at Lampedusa's memorial for refugees lost at sea, urging them to try to understand the migrants' predicament.

She said, "It is very hard to imagine looking out at this beautiful sea how many people have risked their lives and how many people have risked their children's lives and so many of them have lost their lives at sea.

"Can you imagine how it must feel to finally cross in (to Italy?) - for the coast guard to save them and carry them to safety, save their children's lives and give them a chance to survive and to have a future, and what it means to them."