By Tim Saunders on
Actor Ben Affleck has been visiting refugee camps in war-torn eastern Congo this week, where at least 250,000 people have been displaced by recent fighting.
The visit is Affleck’s fourth trip to the African nation, and the 36-year-old said he first became interested in Congo when Hollywood began to focus on the crisis in Darfur. He was shocked to learn about Congo’s four-year war, during which an estimated 5 million people died.
“I’m not an expert in international affairs or diplomacy, but it doesn’t take that to see the tremendous suffering here,” he told The Associated Press. "It’s not something that we as human beings can, in good conscience, ignore.
“I’m really glad that more people are paying more attention to [Congo] now but I’m really saddened that it’s taken this uptick in violence to make that happen. My hope in being here is primarily to bring attention to the fact that there’s a real lack of [aid agencies] here, a real lack of money going to these folks.”
Fighting has escalated in the past year after disputes between the army and loyalist of rebel leader Laurent Nkunda broke out, and Affleck believes his celebrity status will bring attention to the region.
“I think that, for better or worse, people with some profile in the arts have some currency to spend as celebrities,” he said. “And for a time, I didn’t spend that in any particularly productive way. And I got to a point where I thought, this is wasteful… this is a place where I can have a really big impact.”
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