Angelina Jolie urges action against rape as a war weapon

Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie (second left) and British Foreign Secretary (right) are welcomed upon arrival at Sarajevo International Airport late on March 27, 2014. Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Minister William Ha
Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie (second left) and British Foreign Secretary (right) are welcomed upon arrival at Sarajevo International Airport late on March 27, 2014. Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Minister William Hague on Friday, March 28, 2014, urged the international community to stop the use of sexual violence as a war weapon. -- PHOTO: AFP

SARAJEVO (AFP) - Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Minister William Hague on Friday urged the international community to stop the use of sexual violence as a war weapon.

Jolie, whose 2011 directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" dealt with violence against women during Bosnia's war, urged peace missions around the world to make combatting sex crimes a priority.

"The use of rape as a weapon of war is one of the most harrowing and savage of these crimes against civilians," she told a conference in Bosnia's capital.

"This is rape so brutal, with such extreme violence, that it is even hard to talk about it," said the 38-year-old actress, who is a goodwill ambassador for the UN's refugee agency.

The actress and Mr Hague were in Sarajevo for a conference on sexual violence in war organised by Bosnia's defence ministry.

They are due to co-host a high-profile summit on the same topic in London in June, which is expected to be the largest ever gathering of its kind, according to the British foreign minister.

Mr Hague said that today "sexual violence is used deliberately as a weapon of war" in the conflicts in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

"I hope we can all work together to prevent the horrors seen in this region from being repeated in future conflicts anywhere in the world," he said.

Around 20,000 women, mostly Muslim, were raped during Bosnia's inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, according to local estimates. So far only 33 people have been convicted for the crimes.

The actress and the minister left later on Friday for Srebrenica to pay respect to the victims of genocide committed in the eastern town near the end of the 1992-1995 war.

Afer capturing Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, Serb forces executed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the worst atrocity committed in Europe since World War II.

More than 6,000 massacre victims, whose remains were found in mass graves, were laid to rest at a memorial cemetery in the town.

Bosnia's war between its Croats, Muslims and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives.

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