Deacon Blue stars Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross are urging people to back a charity appeal to help women affected by sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The pair helped launch the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund’s 2020 Wee Box Big Change appeal in Glasgow on Wednesday after returning from a visit to the country.
Decades of conflict have left a legacy of brutality and lawlessness in the eastern region of DR Congo, and sexual violence and rape are widespread.
On their recent trip, the Deacon Blue stars met women that SCIAF and its local partners are supporting with medical care, trauma counselling, free legal support to prosecute their attackers and help so that they and their families can become financially independent.
McIntosh said: “The scale and brutality of sexual violence in eastern DR Congo is extremely disturbing.
“The lives of thousands of women and their families are being torn apart.
“It was great to see how money given in Scotland is helping women get the medical treatment, trauma counselling, free legal aid and help to recover and support themselves and their families in the future.
“The strength and courage of the women I met was truly inspiring but many more urgently need our help.”
Money given to SCIAF’s Wee Box Big Change appeal this year will help the charity’s work around the world, while match funding from the UK Government will help 4,000 extremely vulnerable women affected by sexual violence in DR Congo.
Ross said: “Years of brutality and conflict in the areas we visited are taking their toll.
“Women and children are bearing the brunt of this.
“The money raised from the appeal will allow SCIAF to help thousands more women and girls to get the urgent help they need, and I would urge everyone to please give what you can.”
SCIAF works with people in some of the poorest countries in the world, providing emergency aid and practical long-term support to those affected by hunger, poverty, war and disasters.
The charity’s chief executive Alistair Dutton said: “Today, thousands of women and girls in the DR Congo continue to be hurt, traumatised, isolated and in urgent need of our help.
“Their suffering is heartbreaking and we must not forget them.
“I’m extremely grateful to Lorraine and Ricky for coming to meet the incredible women we’re working with, see the difference we’re making and help shed light on this very difficult and disturbing issue.”
He added: “I urge people across Scotland to get their own SCIAF Wee Box and give what they can.
“Having aid match funding from the UK Government is a huge incentive.
“All donations we receive before May 20 will be doubled so people’s support will go twice as far.”
Anyone wanting to get a Wee Box or make a donation can go to www.sciaf.org.uk/weebox