Congo Watch: DR Congo: Ben Affleck and Sir Mick Jagger make film for UNHCRs Gimme Shelter campaign

Sunday, January 18, 2009

DR Congo: Ben Affleck and Sir Mick Jagger make film for UNHCRs Gimme Shelter campaign

Actor-director Ben Affleck and Sir Mick Jagger have launched a short film for UNHCRs new Gimme Shelter campaign to help raise funds and awareness about the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the work of the UN refugee agency. (UNHCR 17 December 2008)

Click on the centre arrow to view Ben Affleck's short film (4 minutes 33 seconds) for UNHCR's Gimme Shelter campaign and listen to one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

The footage was shot in the North Kivu region of the DRC in November 2008.

In November, Affleck visited Africa to shoot footage in DRCs strife-torn North Kivu province, where tens of thousands have fled their homes since fighting resumed in August. He also visited Uganda, where some 30,000 people have sought refuge and are receiving help from UNHCR. The result is a short film entitled Gimme Shelter, set to the classic Rolling Stones song of the same name, which Jagger and the group donated to the campaign.

UNHCR hopes the Gimme Shelter campaign will help raise US$23 million in 2009 to pay for clean water supplies and emergency humanitarian assistance kits in the region.

The film - Gimme Shelter - was directed by Affleck and filmed by John Toll, both Academy Award winners. The footage was shot in the strife-torn North Kivu region of the DRC in November, where thousands have fled their homes since fighting resumed in August.

For more information about the Gimme Shelter campaign go to
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From December 18 2008:
Ben Affleck and Jagger make film for Congo

If peace is restored in Congo it will benefit everyone including  Gorillas. This new film may just help

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.

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.
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Mapima, a six-month-old chimp

Photo: Mapima, a six-month-old chimp - read her story below

From The Times
November 22, 2008
By Rob Crilly at the Virunga National Park
Congo: Rangers risk lives to guard gorillas as violence spreads
For more than a fortnight Dusabimana John was forced to live in a stinking camp for people displaced by fighting in the latest flare-up in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Like hundreds of thousands of others, he sheltered from tropical rainstorms under plastic sheeting and ate food distributed by aid agencies.

Unlike the others, the ranger from Virunga National Park was as concerned about the animals he had left behind as the humans around him.

“I was worried about the gorillas and elephants,” he said, standing amid ammunition discarded by rebels at the park headquarters in Rumangabo. “That's why I came back. I found myself thinking about them every day. In the war gorillas have been killed. If we are not here then no one can stop them being killed.”

Rangers like him are the only thing keeping the war from destroying Africa's oldest national park. Virunga is one of the last homes of the endangered mountain gorillas. Almost a third of the 700 remaining in the world live in the forest. Others live in national parks in Rwanda and Uganda. Chimpanzees and lowland gorillas, as well as 2,000 varieties of plants and more than 700 bird species, can be found among the volcanic hills that are often shrouded in mist.

The forest affords little protection from the fighting. One sector is the hideout of Hutu militias who fled Rwanda at the end of the 1994 genocide against mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Another sector — where the gorillas live — has been under the control of rival Tutsi rebels for the past year. A month ago the rebels, commanded by General Laurent Nkunda, seized the park headquarters.

There has been fresh wave of violence this week, turning the tranquil forest into a war zone. Further north in the park, General Nkunda's rebels seized government positions and ranger stations. About 240 rangers have been forced to leave.

At the end of a terrible week came a glimmer of hope. Rebels allowed rangers back into the gorilla sector for the first time in more than a year. Emmanual de Merode, the director of the park, drove for four hours into the heart of rebel-held territory on Tuesday to negotiate their return. “It was just a question of explaining that it's a world heritage site of global significance and the park authority has got to continue its work,” he said, playing down any risk to his own safety.

“It's a huge breakthrough for us because we haven't been able to get into the gorilla sector since August last year.” The first rangers found a shell of a building where their headquarters had been. Rebels had carted off most of the furniture and left three mortar rounds amid a jumble of park papers scattered on the floor.

Today the first rangers were due to begin tracking the apes as the first step of a census. An estimated 200 live in the park but no one knows what toll the war has taken. Hundreds of hippos were killed in an orgy of slaughter two years ago, as Government-allied Mai Mai militia went hunting for meat and ivory.

“It's the presence of all these armed groups, the chaos and people who simply need to make a living, that's destroying the park along with a future for tourism and conservation here,” said Mr de Merode.

The region's abundant seams of minerals, and its charcoal forests, provide rich incentive for a dozen or so more militias to keep conflict simmering and the local population in squalid camps.

The rangers themselves have taken a heavy toll. About 120 have been killed since the region was plunged into civil war more than a decade ago.

Now they are returning to continue their crucial work once again. “When the fighting came here we knew we had to leave to protect our families and go to safety in Goma,” said Karonkano Baseka, a returning ranger, speaking in Swahili.

“We cannot leave this place unprotected because there is danger all around and without us there will be no forest. If there is no forest there can be no gorillas,” Karonkano Baseka, a park ranger, said.

As the little furball - all grasping fingers and curious brown eyes - gambols around the lawn there are few signs of Mapima’s miserable start to life.

In places her thick coating of hair has been rubbed bare by the ropes that once bound her. The six-month-old chimpanzee’s head is marked by a sore.

But since being rescued from an army commander by Congolese conservationists Mapima has one thing on her mind: playing rough and tumble with her new carers.

“She loves playing with flowers and eating them,” said Faustin Muhindo Kighomo. She always likes attention and if you ignore her she’ll hassle you until you give in.”

Mapima was spotted tied up at an army roadblock outside the regional capital Goma.

Close by soldiers patrol with monkeys on their shoulders.

While baby chimps are viewed as playthings or valuable commodities, monkeys are believed to ward off evil spirits making them useful companions in war.

Mapima’s ordeal ended 10 days ago when park rangers rescued her from her army captor.

Samantha Newport, spokeswoman for the Virunga park authority, said the latest round of fighting had accelerated the illegal trade in wildlife.

Three baby chimps have been rescued in recent months. But, “most of them slip through the net,” said Ms Newport. “When you have a war and a park that’s badly resourced it’s impossible to protect everything.”
For more about the rangers of Virunga National Park go to, the park's website.
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