Angelina Jolie used her celebrity yesterday to help publicise the 46,000 children still displaced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The actress explained that her work as a United Nations (UN) goodwill ambassador had inspired her and partner Brad Pitt to work alongside the Children's Health Fund (CHF).

"This is the largest displacement of children in my own country so I want to learn as much as possible," she told reporters at a press conference in New Orleans.

The CHF issued a report earlier this month which explained that between 46,000 and 64,000 children affected by Katrina - as well as Hurricane Rita - were still at risk of medical, mental health and educational problems.

"Many families are distressed about how long and difficult the recovery has been," said Dr Irwin Redlener, president of the CHF and director of the National Centre for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, which conducted the study.

"We're concerned that this issue has fallen off the radar screen and that, nationally, people are losing interest, saying this is a 'local' issue. We dispute that. This is a national problem and one that requires an intense and focused effort to fix," he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

Jolie's partner, Fight Club star Pitt, has pledged more than $5 million (£2.4 million) to Make it Right, a recovery project to rebuild 150 homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighbourhood devastated by the hurricanes.

"We're focused on community building," Pitt said. "It's not just about homes. It's not just about building. It's about the lack of focus on education and health care too."

23/12/2007 15:30:58