December 17, 2008 / 2:28 PM / 10 years ago

Affleck, Jagger release film for Congo appeal

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Ben Affleck and Mick Jagger teamed up on Wednesday to launch a short film called “Gimme Shelter” drawing attention to the plight of Congolese families driven from their homes by a decade of war.

Ben Affleck waves at the premiere of "Gone Baby Gone" at the Bruin theatre in Los Angeles October 8, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Oscar winner and actor Affleck, who has traveled to central Africa four times since 2007, directed the film which was shot in North Kivu in Congo last month to help raise $23 million for the work of the U.N. refugee agency in Congo.

The film is set to the 1969 Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter,” written by Jagger and Keith Richards. Released at the time of the Vietnam War, the song features the refrain “War, children, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away.”

Around 5.4 million people have died from violence and conflict-related hunger and disease in the past decade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, where ethnic violence extended from neighboring Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in which Hutu extremists attacked Tutsis.

“Too much of the world is indifferent or looking the other way,” Affleck said in a statement launching the film. “I’m urging people not to look the other way, not to turn off their TV when news of the violence in the DRC comes on.”

Although Congo held successful elections in 2006 aimed at ending the conflict, violence has continued to simmer.

Rebels led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda have routed the army and captured swathes of territory in the province of North Kivu since August, sending around a quarter of a million people fleeing for their lives.

The film focuses on the plight of families forced to flee the fighting, among an estimated 1.3 million displaced people in Congo, according to the U.N. refugee agency. The film will be distributed online at as well as on television and in cinemas.

“I hope this video will help highlight the plight of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people and also the thousands of innocent people who are needlessly losing their lives there,” Jagger said in a statement.

Jagger and the Rolling Stones donated the song for the campaign to raise money for emergency humanitarian assistance kits that contain jerry cans, kitchen sets, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting needed for construction of shelters.

Editing by Eric Walsh

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