Ben Affleck: Resolving Conflict in Congo "Has to Be a Priority"

Celebrity News Nov. 25, 2012 AT 6:15PM
George Stephanopoulos interviews Ben Affleck and Rep. Adam Smith, during "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." George Stephanopoulos interviews Ben Affleck and Rep. Adam Smith, during "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC Television

Ben Affleck -- actor, director, and...international affairs expert?

The 40-year-old Argo filmmaker stopped by ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous on Sunday, Nov. 25, to talk about the crisis in war-torn Congo, which is currently in a state of violent conflict, as rebels seized control of Goma last week. Affleck founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, a U.S.-based advocacy organization focused on working with and for the people of the African country.

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"There's a huge amount that the U.S. can do, frankly," the star said on the show, where he was joined by Rep. Adam Smith, a Democratic congressman from Washington. "I mean, we have a lot of levers there. We can engage in the kind of high-level, shuttle diplomacy that you saw be so effective in Gaza."

The Oscar winner stressed, however, that the U.S. needs to take action sooner rather than later, as living conditions in the area are quickly deteriorating.

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"One of the things we're hearing from our people there is that the schools that we fund, people are hiding out in," he explained. "The hospitals are completely overwhelmed. They're offering free care for war victims. A shell just hit a camp and paralyzed a 5-year-old boy from the neck down. So you're hearing all kinds of...brutal, terrible stuff."

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That said, "progress is possible," Affleck told host George Stephanopolous, calling on the U.S. government -- and President Barack Obama, in particular -- to step up to the challenge. "He's not unaware of this," the actor said of the Commander-in-Chief. "I appreciate all the other things that he's doing, but this has to be a priority."

"I think this is critical," he continued. "I think our actions in foreign policy -- and maybe I am naive -- you know, represent our values and represent who we are. And if any American were to go to that country and stand and see what was happening there, they would insist that we do what we could."

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