Veteran rockers U2 have been awarded the highest honour Portugal has in recognition of their tireless humanitarian work.

The Irish stars - singer Bono, bassist Adam Clayton, guitarist The Edge, and drummer LARRY MULLEN - were presented with the Order Of Liberty by the country's President JORGE SAMPAIO.

The band received their honours at an official ceremony at the presidential palace shortly before they played a gig in Lisbon yesterday (14AUG05).

On presenting U2 with their awards, Sampaio said, "Over the last 25 years you have shown that it is possible to combine the pleasure of artistic creation with civic and humanitarian intervention to help build a better world."

As he accepted his honour, Bono said, "It is of course for the four of us a great, great honour."

The singer then went on to encourage the Portuguese to donate money to the starving in Africa: "If we really believed that an African life was equal to a European life we would not stand by with watering cans while an entire continent was bursting into flames."

Bono regularly campaigns to alleviate poverty, and was a major force being the Live Aid and Live 8 gigs in 1985 and July this year (05) respectively.