Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Affleck launches DR Congo appeal

Ben Affleck
The fighting has displaced some 250,000 people since August

Singer Mick Jagger and actor Ben Affleck have launched a short film to highlight the plight of 250,000 refugees in eastern DR Congo.

The UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, is hoping the Gimme Shelter film will help to raise $23m (14.9m) to pay for emergency aid and clean water.

The Affleck-directed film, set to the Stones song of the same name, was shot in the North Kivu region.

Civilians there have fled fighting between Congolese soldiers and rebels.

The UN estimates there are more than one million displaced people in the country.

The 1969 Rolling Stones song Gimme Shelter, composed by Jagger and Keith Richards and released at the time of the Vietnam War, features the words, "war, children, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away".

I wanted to try to show people something about the refugee situation that they hadn't seen which is that there's an extraordinary dignity to refugees
Ben Affleck

Affleck told BBC News he had been "intimidated and honoured and really excited" to be given the chance to highlight the difficulties faced by refugees in their every day lives.

"Obviously, it's a pretty bleak humanitarian catastrophe on the one hand, I think that that's something people know.

"On the other hand, I wanted to try to show people something about the refugee situation that they hadn't seen which is that there's an extraordinary dignity to refugees.

"A lot of these folks are like you and me. A lot of people I encountered were teachers, lawyers professors - everyday people whose towns were upended and who were living and struggling, with a kind of dignity that could just be you or me."

Affleck, who said he checked the BBC News website "all the time" to follow stories on the region, said he hoped the film would lead to "a certain level of empathy with them rather than seeing people at a distance".

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