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Bosnian Refugees Get Donation After Angelina Jolie's Visit

Angelina Bosnia

AIDA CERKEZ   10/25/10 09:56 PM ET   AP

ROGATICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A U.S. government donation will provide housing for the last 15 people living in a Bosnian refugee camp that movie stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt drew attention to by visiting.

Radomir Jovicic, the mayor of the eastern Bosnian town of Rogatica, said Monday the nearly $500,000 donation will be used for the construction of an apartment building for the refugees who could move in by September.

Jovicic said he had lobbied for donations for the refugees for years but the Jolie and Pitt visit to the camp in April was the turning point leading to last week's U.S. donation agreement.

Jolie, a UNHC ambassador, has visited some of the projects of the agency, which helps the 117,000 refugees who were left homeless by fighting that ended in Bosnia 15 years ago.

"I will tattoo her name here," said camp resident Goran Markovic, 47, pointing to one of his arms. After the April visit, refugee camp residents called Jolie their "beauty." But when they found out about the U.S. donation she became "our saint," said Markovic.

Jolie's name is not mentioned in the contract for the new apartment building in Rogatica, 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Sarajevo, but the town's officials and refugees are convinced her visit made the difference.

"I simply cannot believe that there is no link between Angelina Jolie's visit and this project," said Jovicic.

Two refugees – sisters Lena Babic, 78, and Mara Babic, 72 – fondly remember entertaining Jolie and Pitt on Easter Sunday when they visited them in their small room in the former school that serves as the refugee camp in Rogatica.

But both women only found out later that they were famous actors.

Their neighbor, 68-year-old Borka Mandzo, said she feels indebted to Jolie, and refugee Persa Radovic, 72, said she cried when she heard about the U.S. donation for a new apartment building.

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Filed by Erica Liepmann  |