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Thursday
Feb272014

Ben Affleck Tells Senate Committee Work in Congo Isn't Done

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a hearing that lasted two and a half hours in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, former U.S. Senator and now Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo Russell Feingold listed some of the complicated problems facing the war-torn country, with the help of actor, director, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Ben Affleck.

Fresh off of his visit to the State Department, the actor gave testimony Wednesday on his years of work in Congo with his organization, the Eastern Congo Initiative, a group he founded to work for peace and prosperity in the region. While the situation in one of Africa's most volatile countries has improved, Affleck said the region still needs attention.

"Over the past decade, the international community has focused more on signing peace deals than on implementing the mandates found within those deals," Affleck told the Senate committee.

"Our work in DRC is not done. We cannot risk diminished U.S. leadership at a time when lasting stability and peace are within reach," he said.

Though reports from Foreign Policy magazine suggest Affleck was turned away from testifying in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee due to labeling as an uninformed celebrity, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., struck a different chord in the hearing.

“We get a lot of celebrities here,” McCain “But your credibility is really remarkable because of the depth of your commitment.”

Affleck acknowledged at the beginning of his testimony that he wasn’t “a Congo expert.” He was sitting alongside a Former U.S. Ambassador and Former UN Special Representative to the DRC Roger Meece as well as Dr. Raymond Gilpin, an Academic Dean for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

Affleck did say, however, that after working in the country for more than seven years, he has seen unequivocal improvements in the safety for the Congolese people. He also expressed optimism that continued efforts toward peaceful elections and work protecting the country’s resources could foster a more secure Congo -- statements echoed by all of his fellow witnesses.

"Targeted investment and promising Congolese-driven solutions can and will drive economic growth and will create jobs," he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio