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Sat Sep 20 03:55:57 SAST 2014

Don't cut aid to DRC: Affleck

Sapa-AFP | 09 March, 2011 06:270 Comments
Ben Affleck testifies during a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing on "The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Securing Peace in the Midst of Tragedy" at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.
Image by: Kris Connor/Getty Images

US actor turned Africa advocate Ben Affleck warns US lawmakers that cutting foreign aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo could push the vast central African country back into war.

"Austerity demands that we turn a blind eye to Congo, but it would be penny wise and pound foolish to allow the Democratic Republic of Congo to fall again," Affleck told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Tuesday.

"We have to take a hard look at our current commitment, and then we have to do more," added the star, who last year founded the Eastern Congo Initiative advocacy group and regularly uses his celebrity status to shine a spotlight on the continuing violence in the vast central African country.

A report issued by ECI in November last year said the DRC was teetering on the brink of chaos but could be edged forward into recovery, with aid from the United States and other donor states.

The report urged the United States to spearhead an international effort to bring stability to eastern DRC or risk the entire Great Lakes region becoming "another failure of humanity".

Affleck's call for action came as US lawmakers were locked in a heated debate over where and how to cut the government's budget.

The conservative Republicans, who took control of the House of Representatives in November elections on a campaign pledge to shrink the US deficit and national debt, have proposed sweeping spending cuts, including to foreign aid, which currently makes up just one percent of the US budget.

Affleck had brought his star appeal to Capitol Hill as part of a panel that also included Cindy McCain, wife of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, and John Prendergast, another staunch advocate for greater US involvement in Africa to promote and preserve human rights.

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