Pictures: Angelina Jolie opens sexual abuse in war zones summit at ExCel

Angelina Jolie and Foreign Secretary William Hague. Photo: David Mirzoeff

Angelina Jolie and Foreign Secretary William Hague. Photo: David Mirzoeff - Credit: Archant

Angelina Jolie called on the international community to make ending sexual abuse in war zones a priority when she opened the largest ever summit to discuss the issue.

The actress, who is a UN special envoy, was speaking at the start of the End Sexual Violence on Conflict conference at the ExCel exhibition centre in Custom House.

She described how she has met rape victims from Afghanistan to Somalia.

Jolie was applauded by the audience when she said abuse victims should not be made to feel bad about what has been done to them.

“It is a weapon of war, it is it nothing to do with sex,” she said, adding: “We must send a message around the world that there is no disgrace in being a victim of sexual violence, the shame lies with the oppressor.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is co-chairing the exhibition with Jolie, announced in his speech that the UK government will pledge an extra £6m to support victims of sexual violence.

He described the summit, which lasts until Thursday evening, as a historic endeavour which he hoped would bring about change.

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He added: “We can create an unstoppable momentum and consign this vile abuse to history.”

Jolie and Hague spent about an hour visiting exhibitors in the summit’s Fringe section which is open to the public.

Today’s launch was based on youth-focused events while tomorrow experts and activists will discuss the issue. The heads of states from about 170 countries will come together on Thursday.

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