News / Africa

Actor Ben Affleck Testifies Before Congress as an African Expert

Actor and Eastern Congo Initiative Founder Ben Affleck listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 26, 2014, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Congo.
Actor and Eastern Congo Initiative Founder Ben Affleck listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 26, 2014, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Congo.
Hollywood star Ben Affleck Wednesday called on President Barack Obama to directly engage with President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo to encourage him to live up to his commitment to security reforms.

The actor and activist was appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to testify alongside Russell Feingold, the U.S special envoy for the Great Lakes region and Congo, and Roger Meece, former U.S ambassador to Congo.

The hearing, before the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, came three months after M23, an eastern-DRC-based rebel group, announced it was ending its 19-month uprising against the Kinshasa government.

“If it were not for bold leadership by you, the U.S Congress, together with the Obama administration, Congo would not be at this important turning point,” said Affleck.

The star who is also the founder of Eastern Congo Initiative, a grant-making and advocacy organization working in Congo urged the Obama administration to play a greater role in the DRC’s future.

“I am also here today with an urgent message: Our work in DRC is not finished,” said Affleck. “We cannot risk diminished U.S leadership at a time when lasting peace and stability are within reach.”

Sen. John McCain said he found Affleck’s expertise credible and remarkable.
“Your credibility is really remarkable because of the depth of your commitment,” said McCain.

The Oscar winner who has visited Congo at least nine times, said he was inspired by the stories he hears from women and children.

“They are devastating but also hopeful,” said Affleck. “People have the desire to reclaim themselves and their personal dignity.”
 
Both Affleck and Feingold credited US and international engagement for helping bring about M23’s military defeat by Congolese government forces.

However, they urged continued international pressure on the Congolese government to implement security sector reforms and organize free and fair elections.  

Feingold told legislators the Great Lakes and DRC are, in his words, “at a crossroads.” Eastern DRC has experienced two decades of almost uninterrupted warfare and instability including, most recently, the M23 insurgency.

“The decisions that the Congo, the region and the international community take now will set the trajectory of the next several years in terms of security, good governance, and development,” said Feingold.

Last year, UN officials accused neighboring Rwanda of supporting M23, prompting US and UK sanctions against the Rwandan government, which has always denied the charge.

Feingold emphasized the need to fight all armed groups that continue to prey upon the population in Eastern DRC including a Rwandan group FDLR.

“I continue to emphasize, that it is essential that the FARDC and MONUSCO, conduct military operations against the FDLR and the ADF,” said Feingold.

“Following-through on this, is important to building confidence within the region and maintaining MONUSCO’s credibility as an impartial actor.”

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid