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UNHCR Unveils "Gimme Shelter" Campaign for Congo War Victims

The Rolling Stones and actor-director Ben Affleck have joined efforts raise funds to bring clean water and humanitarian assistance to the quarter-million Congolese civilians who have been displaced by recent fighting in North Kivu province. Wednesday at UN headquarters in New York, Academy Award winner Affleck, who has made several recent visits to eastern Congo, Uganda, and Sudan, unveiled the film “Gimme Shelter.” UNHCR senior media officer Tim Irwin says that “Gimme Shelter” is designed to inform and mobilize people all around the world to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of Congolese victims who have been uprooted from their homes because of the violence between Hutu militias, ethnic Tutsi rebels, and Congolese soldiers.

“The film itself is a kind of visceral call to action. There’s no narration on it. It’s set to the music of the Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter,” and it’s full of very compelling images of people living in camps for internally displaced people, people being loaded up on UNHCR trucks to be taken to safer areas, people being provided humanitarian assistance such as water and food,” he noted.

The footage was shot last month amid ongoing fighting in eastern Congo that has been escalating since last August. Sir Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones donated financial rights to their legendary song as part of a $23 million campaign to disseminate emergency assistance kits to Congolese in need. Such kits contain basic survival tools for those who live out in the open in camps or in makeshift huts and for the estimated 30-thousand victims who have fled into neighboring Uganda, where they are receiving UNHCR assistance. The emergency kits contain jerry cans, kitchen sets, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting that is used in constructing temporary shelters.

“Really what the film aims to do is just engage people on a very gut level, rather than watch something which they may come away and say ‘this is terrible, something needs to be done about it,’ to alert them to what’s going on, but also to empower them that there is something they can do about it, that they can support these individuals directly through financial contributions or indirectly, they can go to our website and offer letters of support,” he said.

Irwin says that “Gimme Shelter” will be distributed in cinemas, hotels, on television, mobile phones, and the internet.

“You can see it on our website,, on video-sharing websites such as YouTube, social networking websites such as Facebook. In certain markets it will be screened in cinema halls and on television stations. The main medium I think, and perhaps the most effective medium in getting this out to as many people as possible will be the internet. And we hope that this is something that will be seen by millions of people,” he said.