Ben Affleck video unveiled for UNHCR "Gimme Shelter" campaign

News Stories, 17 December 2008

© Zalmaï
Ben Affleck in Africa during the shooting of the video.

GENEVA, December 17 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency, with the help of American actor-director Ben Affleck and British rock legend Sir Mick Jagger, on Wednesday launched a major new campaign to raise US$23 million to help tens of thousands of displaced Congolese civilians.

At the centre of the campaign is the "Gimme Shelter" video directed by Affleck and filmed by John Toll, both Academy Award winners. The short film, which was due to be formally released at a ceremony in New York on Wednesday, is set to the classic Rolling Stones song, Gimme Shelter, which Jagger and the group donated to the campaign.

The footage was shot last month in Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) strife-torn North Kivu province, where some 250,000 civilians have fled for their lives since fighting resumed in August between government forces and rebel troops.

"We made this film in order to focus attention on the humanitarian crisis in the DRC at a time when too much of the world is indifferent or looking the other way," said Affleck. "The suffering and loss we've all seen first-hand is staggering it is beyond belief."

"Gimme Shelter" captures the suffering of internally displaced Congolese families who fled the fighting with next to nothing and are now forced to find refuge in makeshift shelters with little to live on. Some 30,000 others have fled to neighbouring Uganda and are receiving help from UNHCR.

There are currently 1.3 million displaced people in the DRC, many of them earlier victims caught up in a continuing cycle of violence. The effects of the conflict have claimed as many as 5.4 million lives in the last 10 years, with an estimated 1,000 people still dying every day.

In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the humanitarian situation deteriorates.

The "Gimme Shelter" campaign hopes to raise US$23 million in 2009 to pay for clean water supplies and 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.

The Affleck film will be distributed worldwide via the internet, television, mobile phones, cinemas and hotel chains to raise awareness of UNHCR's global work for refugees and to encourage donations for displaced Congolese.

Jagger described the human suffering in the DRC as appalling and expressed strong support for Affleck's awareness-raising efforts. "The Rolling Stones are very happy to contribute 'Gimme Shelter' in support of Ben's efforts to raise the profile of the conflict in the Congo," Jagger said. "I hope this video will help."

Affleck, who has made four visits to central Africa since 2007, urged more public awareness of this and other conflicts in which millions of people have been forced from their homes.

"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. We all need to stand up and support the work of organizations like UNHCR who are on the ground offering protection and working hard to ensure the rights and well-being of refugees," he said.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres thanked Jagger, Affleck and other "Gimme Shelter" supporters for their efforts. "Refugees are among the most vulnerable of the vulnerable and we at UNHCR are grateful for the compassion, concern and commitment shown by those involved in this campaign," he said. "Their contributions will have a direct impact on the lives of uprooted people not only in the DRC, but around the world."




UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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