04/23/2012 02:34 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2012

Angelina Jolie Visits Ecuador And Meets With Refugees AS UNHCR Special Envoy

Exactly one week after confirming her plans to marry Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie already has a new engagement—in Ecuador.

The Oscar-winning actress, who was recently named the UN refugee agency’s new Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, visited Ecuador this weekend in her first field visit since being appointed to her new position this month. She spent time with refugees by the San Miguel River, in Ecuador.

"Her work does go substantially beyond what we would typically see as being the normal role of a goodwill ambassador," Geneva-based UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters late last week, noting that Special Envoys are unpaid positions.

"I don't think you need a rocket scientist to see the benefits that she is bringing in terms of the attention that she is getting for the plight of the world's displaced," Edwards added.

In her two-day visit, Jolie visited refugees in urban and remote areas of Sucumbios province in the north of the country and met senior government officials in the capital Quito. On Saturday, she made a return visit to the San Valentin neighborhood of Lago Agrio, the capital of Sucumbios province, and on Sunday Jolie visited two remote refugee communities on the banks of the San Miguel Rivera, which marks the border with Colombia.

Jolie also visited the Providencia community of 24 Afro-Colombian refugee families, an isolated community established in 1994 by refugees fleeing violence in Colombia. “I really encourage the government to continue their tradition of assistance to vulnerable families in need,” Jolie said.

On Sunday, Jolie met with the Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino to discuss the protection situation for refugees in Ecuador.

Ecuador currently hosts some 56,000 refugees, 21,000 asylum-seekers and continues to receive 1,300 new applications for protection each month from people fleeing Colombia’s ongoing violence. Many of these refugees live in the remote and poor northern areas of the country close to the Colombian border.

Last week, Jolie was appointed as Special Envoy of High Commissioner Antonio Guterres after serving for more than a decade as UNHCR’s Goodwill Ambassador.

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