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18 December 2008 

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Ben Affleck, UN Team Up to Raise DRC Refugee Awareness

17 December 2008

Ben Affleck (2nd from left, on stage) introduces a short film
Ben Affleck (2nd from left, on stage) introduces a short film "Gimme Shelter," shot in the North Kivu region of DRC, 17 Dec 2008
American actor and activist Ben Affleck has teamed-up with the United Nations releasing a short film highlighting the plight of refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For the last 10 years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been riddled with conflicts. More than five million people have been killed and more than a million others displaced. Children have been recruited to fight, two out of three women have been the victims of violent rape, and families have been torn apart as they try to survive.

Academy Award-winning actor and director Ben Affleck has taken a strong interest in Africa, visiting the continent many times to learn more about its conflicts. His latest project is a four-minute film showing the horrors of life as a Congolese refugee.

The public service announcement was created for the United Nation's Gimme Shelter campaign.

The film is set to the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter song, which Mick Jagger, the lead singer of the band, donated to the campaign. The footage was shot on Affleck's most recent trip to the North Kivu region of eastern Congo - the epicenter of fighting between rebel and government forces that resumed in August.

The United Nations hopes the campaign will raise awareness about the very real, but neglected situation of displaced persons in the Congo.

For his part, Affleck says he hopes the film will move people to demand action from their leaders.

"When awareness is raised, when constituencies start to pay attention, they are more likely to pay attention to that one thing than another," said Ben Affleck. "What I can do is care about something. What I can do is make it important to my elected officials. Diplomacy is free."

In addition to raising awareness, the Gimme Shelter campaign hopes to raise $23 million in 2009 for emergency humanitarian assistance kits to help displaced persons in the DRC.

The film will be distributed worldwide through the Internet, television, mobile phones, cinemas, and hotel chains.

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