Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, who has long been the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), will take on a new role - a Special Envoy for large-scale crises causing civilians to flee homelands.

This is the first time the UN has employed an actress as a Special Envoy.

"UNHCR is pleased to announce today that Angelina Jolie will take on a new and expanded role for the UN refugee agency as special envoy of high commissioner Antonio Guterres. In her new role, she is expected to focus on large-scale crises resulting in the mass displacement of people, to undertake advocacy and represent UNHCR and Guterres at the diplomatic level. This can include "conveying messages to governments" and emphasising the need to adhere to human rights law. Quite honestly, I don't think you need a rocket scientist to see the benefits that she is bringing in terms of the attention that she's getting for the plight of the world's displaced," ABC News quoted UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards as saying.

According to TVNZ, Jolie is expected to deal with complex emergencies and protracted crises in areas including Afghanistan and Somalia, which have driven millions of refugees into neighbouring countries where they remain for years due to the lack of a political solution.

"My personal experiences with UNHCR have been moving, sometimes heartbreaking, but always rewarding and unforgettable," Jolie told UNHCR's Executive Committee in October. The actress has already visited 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan.

The actress, who recently became engaged to long-time partner Brad Pitt, is the mother of six children (three of whom are adopted) and confessed to being disturbed and moved when she was filming "Tomb Raider", in Cambodia, in 2000. She has been, since then, actively helping refugee-focused organisations across the world. The Hindustan Times reports that the UN works to help 35 million refugees around the world.