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Emile Hirsch shares his diaries from Oxfam trip to the DRCDec 11, 2008
BOSTON -- As the Democratic Republic of Congo is once again rocked by violence, actor Emile Hirsch is sharing the diaries from his trip to the war torn country earlier this year in the January issue of Men's Journal, on newsstands now. Penned while Hirsch was on the ground, they document his five days visiting the country and Oxfam programs.
"My trip with Oxfam to the Democratic Republic of Congo was a mind blowing odyssey into the heart of Africa, equal parts informative and inspiring. It is a country filled with iron-willed people, suffering through one of the worst humanitarian situations on the planet. Oxfam is doing a lot of good work, but there is still much more to be done," said Hirsch.
The DRC is the most deadly conflict since World War II, where over 5.4 million people have died, 1.3 million are displaced, and violence and rape are a daily threat.
He began his trip in the poverty-stricken Maniema Province where Oxfam is working with former child soldiers to disarm and re-integrate them back into their home communities. In some cases, the children were forcibly taken from their homes to become fighters during the height of the conflict. These men are now working with their communities to attain forgiveness for wrongs committed and to work towards a peaceful future.
Hirsch's visit concluded in the province of North Kivu, where conflict is still affecting the population. At two camps for Internally Displaced People, he spoke with families driven from their homes by armed groups and saw the cramped conditions of over 9,000 people waiting for safe conditions which will allow them to return to their villages. Oxfam is providing water and sanitation to over 40,000 people that live in the four camps in the Goma, North Kivu area. Oxfam's President, Raymond C. Offenheiser, stated that the actor's involvement can help keep the international community focused on this chronic emergency.
"By supporting Oxfam, Emile can help shed light on the issues facing Congo at this critical time. The people of Congo need our help to feel safe and protected and to keep the country on the path to peace. They have not lost hope for a better future, and we must keep that hope alive. Emile's visit emphasizes that the people of Congo are not alone," said Offenheiser.
Since Hirsch's return from the DRC, an additional quarter of a million people have been forced from their homes due to increased violence and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.
"The good people on this earth cannot turn a blind eye to Congo now, at a time when once again they are on the brink of absolute crisis. By keeping the world's attention on Congo, it puts pressure on the leaders of our planet to take immediate diplomatic action. This may be the only way change will ever come to Congo. After visiting Goma earlier this year, it saddens me to think that many of the people I talked to in the camp are now even worse off, as chaos threatens to envelope them once again. My thoughts are with them," said Hirsch.