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And now your feedback

March 23rd, 2010
09:57 PM ET
Christiane - all ears for the feedback.
Christiane – all ears for the feedback.

The conversation with actor and activist Ben Affleck who just got back from Eastern Congo proved popular.  Amanpour viewers spoke on Ben’s favor and complimented his visit that drew international attention to this sensitive situation.  Some debated about the political aspects of the condition in Congo and mixed commentary was the result of most conversations.

What are your thoughts? Please share your thoughts with us! In addition, if you missed the show go to http://www.anampour.com for more information.

Below, you will see some opinions from viewers like yourself. We would love to hear what you think.

Email comments

Dear Christine,
Thanking you for focusing on issues that the world tend to pay less attention to, I would, however, raise concerns about your recent interview with President Kagame for the following reasons:
– How can anyone dismiss and take so lightly the war in the Congo where countless are dying and being raped in very horrific conditions? I just think he got off lightly and we feel insulted by him not even deploring the killings!
– The very fact that rebel General Nkuda was arrested on Rwandan territory speaks for itself, he is an instrument Kagame uses to destabilize the DRC and get what he wants. We all know that he only arrested him because the international community threatened to withhold aid on which he depends so much;
– Rwanda occupied eastern DRC for over 5 years, how many rebel * "genocidaires"* did they arrest? Which shows that the issue is difficult and requires cooperation between regional countries
I just want to express how appalled we are to see this arrogant man using the international platform given to him to dismiss as irrelevant the rape of women, children and their brutal killings right on he door step
Regards
Laurent  bureau

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Ben Affleck launches initiative for Congo aid

March 23rd, 2010
07:49 PM ET

By George Lerner; Producer, AMANPOUR.

(CNN) - Actor Ben Affleck on Monday launched a grassroots initiative to assist communities ravaged by war in one of the most troubled places on earth, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Affleck, who just returned from a trip to the DRC, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he had long heard about the crisis in Congo, which has left more than 5 million people dead over the past 12 years, but only came to understand the scope of the humanitarian crisis after repeated visits to the country.

"The more I traveled, the more I was struck about it, the more I fell in love with the people, the more I was horrified by what was happening. And the more I did, I started to develop this idea of partnering with the Congolese people and wanting to empower community-based organizations there that were doing extraordinary work," Affleck said.

Affleck on Monday announced the launch of the Eastern Congo Initiative, an effort to support community organizations working to help rape victims and to rebuild from a decade of war.

"There are folks who are working to protect those who are suffering from gender-based violence, who help child soldiers to advance the educational needs of the citizens there." Affleck told Amanpour. "There are people who live in the communities, who are from there, who understand the relationships there, who are Africans finding solutions to African problems. And when I was there, what I saw was that those were, in my view, the most effective folks at meeting those goals."

One of those groups, Affleck said, was an organization known as LAV, the French acronym for "Let Africa Live," which taught practical trades, such as carpentry, auto mechanics and textile production, to reintegrate both former soldiers and victims of the violence back into society.

Affleck cited the case of one woman whom he met on his trip last week. She had survived a horrifying ordeal at the hands of a militia in Eastern Congo.

"They, in her words, treated her like an animal and a slave. She was a bush wife to six men who raped her. She became pregnant. She eventually escaped by asking basically permission to take a bath and making a mad run for it," he said. "She barely escaped with her life. She walked for a week and made it back to the city. She was homeless, pregnant, and destitute in the city. She was discovered by folks from (LAV). They took her in. They brought her into this community."

Through the work of LAV, the woman is now attending to law school, with plans to practice and teach law, Affleck said.

"She's an extraordinary woman, and (LAV) was the kind of group that we want to partner with and support so that we can broaden their capacity to do more."

Congo analyst Jason Stearns, who worked in Eastern Congo's war zones with the International Crisis Group and the United Nations, said the problems in Congo could be traced to two sources: the ongoing after-effects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the collapse of the Congolese state.

"We're not going to have a solution to the problem - and to the rapes, for that matter - until we have a Congolese state and army that serves the people, rather than preys on the people," Stearns said. "Four billion dollars is currently the amount the international community gives to the Congo for various things, and they've done a great job in emergency stuff, in feeding displaced people, but really a very poor job in reforming the state institutions that would prevent such a crisis in the future."

Congolese human rights attorney Sylvie Maunga Mbanga said the government needed to focus attention on ending a culture of impunity towards rapists, especially when those rapes are committed by members of the Congolese army.

"We need to punish the perpetrators of sexual violence against women," she said.

Eastern Congo may have received far less international attention than the crisis in Darfur, but Affleck called on Washington to do more to address the humanitarian situation in the DRC.

"The United States really needs to develop a comprehensive policy towards Congo as a whole, much in the same way it did toward Sudan in late 2009, which it doesn't have toward Eastern Congo, despite what a sort of mess the place is," Affleck said.

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