Bono, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck join Ebola fight, while Band Aid backlash grows

Familiar faces are lending their star power to a new Ebola PSA posted Wednesday as the Band Aid movement runs into a bit of backlash.

Stars stay silent in new PSA Ebola calling for a unified response to the crisis

This composite shows U2's Bono and actors and directors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The men are just a few of the celebrities who stare silently into a camera in the new PSA to pressure world leaders to fight Ebola. (Tristan Fewings, Julien M. Hekimian, Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Bono, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman and The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira are among celebrities playing the waiting game in a new online campaign calling for a unified response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

  • On mobile? Watch the One Campaign's PSA here

In a video posted Wednesday, stars such as Will Ferrell, Thandie Newton and Connie Britton stare silently into a camera to illustrate that they're still waiting for world leaders to fight Ebola, which has killed more than 5,000 people in the west African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Silence as a 'powerful' message

"The waiting is causing the issue to propel itself," said Danai. "I thought it was a very powerful way to get that message across that we do need action. Sitting and waiting can lead to more problems."

'I thought it was a very powerful way to get that message across that we do need action,' said Walking Dead's Danai Gurira. (Robin Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
Other stars appearing in the One Campaign's 2-minute video include:
  • Will Ferrell
  • Thandie Newton
  • Vincent Cassel
  • Connie Britton
  • Akon
  • Ellie Goulding
  • German soccer star Per Mertesacker
  • African musicians Fally Ipupa and Angelique Kidjo.

They're also joined by Liberian health care workers Dr. J. Soka Moses and Louise Gaye.

'We've waited too long'

"We thought there was something extremely powerful in not having them say anything," said Michael Elliott, CEO of the One Campaign. "We asked them to look into the camera, and we came up with just a few simple lines explaining that we've waited too long in the past, and we can't wait too long in the future."

Elliott called the initial response to the Ebola outbreak a failure and said thousands have paid with their lives. One Campaign is asking citizens to sign a petition demanding that world leaders strengthen health care systems in developing countries and end the outbreak.

The video is being released alongside the One Campaign's online Ebola response tracker, which shows how much money countries have pledged to tackle Ebola, how much has been disbursed and how many health workers and other contributions have been sent to affected countries.

Bono, who co-founded the One Campaign, isn't being as quiet in his other attempt to battle Ebola: The U2 frontman is leading a reworked rendition of Do They Know It's Christmas? featuring young artists like Sam Smith, One Direction and Rita Ora. 

Band Aid backlash

Despite the fanfare over the Band Aid reboot, a number of artists say they refused to join Bob Geldof over concerns his movement was flawed.

Fuse ODG said he was 'shocked and appalled' by the lyrics of the song Do They Know It's Christmas? (Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)
In an editorial published Wednesday in The Guardian, British rapper Fuse ODG revealed that he turned down Geldof's invitation to participate after he was "shocked and appalled" by the song's lyrics.

"I pointed out to Geldof the lyrics I did not agree with, such as the lines 'Where a kiss of love can kill you and there’s death in every tear', and 'There is no peace and joy in West Africa this Christmas,' said the Ghanaian-raised musician.

"For the past four years I have gone to Ghana at Christmas for the sole purpose of peace and joy. So for me to sing these lyrics would simply be a lie."

Academics and activists are also objecting to Band Aid's mission. Nigerian human rights activist, Chitra Nagarajan, told Al Jazeera that she thinks it's the stars' images that stand to benefit the most.

"It's yet another classic sign of white Western saviourism, in this case with celebrities swooping in to 'save' the people of Africa," said the 31-year-old.

"Not only does this take away the agency of people living in African countries who are the ones who actually lead and make change happen, but it perpetuates stereotypes of conflict, poverty and disease as the single story of the continent."

The original Band Aid charity single was released 30 years ago and raised $14 million for famine relief in Ethiopia. Geldof said the new single, released on Monday, raised $1.7 million in the first four or five minutes it went on sale.

With files from CBC News


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